The Department of Health’s warning comes in the wake of reports that more than 7,000 malaria cases have been recorded in South Africa since the start of 2023.
THE DEPARTMENT of Health this week issued a warning to travellers to take precautions against malaria, a life-threatening tropical disease transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.
The department warned that summer season marks the start of the malaria period in South Africa due to higher temperatures and increased rainfall in the malaria transmission areas.
The department’s warning comes in the wake of reports that more than 7,000 cases have been recorded in South Africa since the start of 2023.
Health spokesperson Foster Mohale said the department is intensifying its malaria response plan through malaria screening and testing around borders in high-malaria risk provinces – KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo – throughout the year for early detection of imported cases.
Travellers en route to and from malaria-prone areas are urged to take appropriate precautionary measures to prevent possible infections as to the country enters malaria season.
“Summer season marks the start of the malaria period in South Africa due to higher temperatures and increased rainfall in the malaria transmission areas,” he said.
To date, 7,400 malaria cases have been recorded in the country and only 17% of those cases are locally acquired, while the remaining cases were from people who are infected while outside South Africa.
Mohale explained that at least 66 deaths have been recorded since January 2023 to date.
Those experiencing symptoms are urged to get tested.
Pregnant women and children under five years should avoid visiting malaria-endemic areas, unless they take extra precaution measures.
Symptoms – Malaria symptoms typically occur within seven to 30 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People with malaria can experience fever, chills, headache, vomiting, and muscle pain. If left untreated, malaria can lead to severe discomfort, anaemia, brain damage, and even death.
Treatments available – Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for malaria. If you suspect you have malaria, you must visit a health-care provider immediately for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment typically involves antimalarial medication, rest, and increased fluid intake.
Precautions – While treatment is essential, it is equally important to understand the preventive measures we can take to avoid contracting malaria. These include wearing long-sleeved clothing, using mosquito repellents, sleeping under mosquito nets, and taking prescribed antimalarial medication before and during travel to countries where malaria is endemic.