Malaria – more about this menace | iinfo TZANEEN

Malaria is known to be quite a killer throughout Africa. South Africa also has its areas where malaria is a threat. For residents in rural areas, especially children or pregnant women, the threat is very real and often fatal.
 
Victims bitten (sucked?) by a malaria-carrying mosquito, who contract malaria and fall ill, can survive if medically treated. In many of these areas, precautions aren't taken as it is part of their everyday lives. Some believe they become naturally immune.
 
Malaria Risk Areas in South Africa
 
Malaria is endemic in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and in Limpopo (including the Kruger Park and private game reserves, which are very popular tourist destinations). In Kwa-Zulu Natal malaria is endemic on the Maputaland coast. Tourists should know about the latest state of affairs concerning malaria in the far north of South Africa, as this status changes regularly.
 
Intermediate Risk Areas
 
In the intermediate risk areas of Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay, Mkuze Game Reserve and St Lucia Lake (excluding the town and river mouth), the use of anti-malarial drugs is advisable only for high risk people from October to May. Check with your physician or travel clinic.
 
Low Risk Areas
 
In low risk areas, no anti-malaria drugs are necessary. In the North-West Province and the Northern Cape along the Molopo and Orange Rivers, including the Augrabies Falls and the Kgalagadi Trans-frontier Park, malaria is only occasionally locally transmitted. It is not necessary to take anti-malaria drugs when visiting these areas, but precautionary measures to prevent mosquito bites should be taken.
 
Precautions and Advice for malaria risk areas
 
Visitors to these should especially take precautions between dawn and dusk.
 
• apply insect repellent to exposed skin
 
• if possible remain indoors
 
• close windows and doors at night unless they are screened
 
• spray an aerosol insecticide inside the sleeping area
 
• burn mosquito coils and mosquito mats in sleeping areas
 
• sleep under a mosquito-proof bed-net
 
• wear long-sleeved clothing, trousers and socks if outdoors during this time
 
• in high-risk areas (Kruger Park, northern parts of Limpopo and northern parts of KwaZulu Natal) the use of anti-malaria drugs is recommended from October to May.
 
People at particular risk who should take extra precautions are:
 
• children under 5
 
• adults over 65
 
• pregnant women
 
• people on long term steroids
 
• people receiving chemotherapy
 
• people with Aids / HIV, porphyria or epilepsy
 
• people who have had their spleens removed
 
• chronically ill patients.
 
Taking Malaria Prophylactics
 
If you do decide to take malaria prophylaxis, it is essential to take the drugs according to the directions on the package insert. You need to start a week or two before entering the malaria-endemic area and it is also essential that you continue to take the drugs for four weeks after leaving the malaria risk area. Please consult your physician or a registered health-care professional about the possible side-effects of the drugs.
 
Precautions
 
Some medical conditions are contra-indications for malaria prophylactic drugs, so consult your regular doctor if you have any pre-existing conditions. If you are pregnant it is advisable to avoid malaria areas but you can still have a great holiday (including some excellent game viewing) without setting a foot in a malaria-endemic area.
 
After Travelling
 
It is important to note that a person may still contract malaria even though all precautionary measures have been taken. If any flu-like symptoms namely, headache, fever, muscular and joint pains, sweating, shivering attacks, nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue occur after a visit to a malaria risk area (and for up to six months there-after) consult a doctor immediately and advise the doctor of your visit to the malaria area in order to ensure that malaria is diagnosed and treated in time. Malaria attacks can occur up to six months after leaving a malaria area.
 
For many South Africans, Mozambique is that close-enough, reachable and reasonable tropical holiday. Many people feel or even believe that they won't be bitten and don't bother taking precautions. A family member of mine regarded himself as untouchable and erroneously thought: "that won't happen to me!" Well, it did – in quite a nasty form after a two-week break in Mozambique. Men often don't complain about symptoms – they don't want to appear weak or needy. Luckily, he has an attentive and alert wife who whisked him to the doctor, who him admitted him to hospital immediately. The diagnosis was a shocker: cerebral malaria. The doctor said if he came a little later, he might not have made it….that is how serious it is.
 
Take note: people who are a little scared of possible side-effects can consider the use of homeopathic options. Many people are sceptical about this, but I am living proof of: done that – and everything else that was suggested/advised and me and my family returned sun-tanned, happy and … healthy! Never say never. Just do what needs to be done. Then it won't be the last thing that you do! Go where you want to go, dream what you dare to dream – but take preventive action! Prevention is ALWAYS better than cure!
 
 

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