Cape Town - Travellers heading to Botswana or those who find themselves in Limpopo need to ensure they take the correct preventative measures as a warning has been issued for high levels of malaria in both of these regions.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness for Botswana has issued a warning that the country is experiencing a high levels of malaria, following the recent heavy rains.
"There have been increases in the number of cases in Okavango, Ngami, Chobe, Boteti, Tutume and Bobirwa. Travel agents are advised to warn their clients to seek medical advice two weeks before travelling to malarial areas."
The Limpopo Health Department has also announced an increase in the number or reported malaria cases in the province, particularly around Lephalale and Thabazimbi.
'Not an outbreak, however in uncommon malaria area'
News24 reports the Limpopo health department on Tuesday 14 March confirmed at least 46 cases of malaria had been reported in the western Waterberg district around Lephalale and Thabazimbi. The department's spokesperson Thabiso Teffo stated no fatalities had been reported.
“It is an area that does not normally have malaria mosquitoes. We also worried that 70% of the cases reported were people who had not travelled. It means they had contracted malaria in the area they stay.” Teffo said the department started spraying insecticide and informed residents and doctors.
However it is important to note that the department says it is "not an outbreak. It’s malaria season". The concern is that the cases are uncommon because it’s an area where we don’t expect malaria.
On 25 April, the world will celebrate World Malaria Awareness Day - see how you can get involved here:
ALSO SEE: 7 things worth knowing about mosquitoes
What you need to know about Malaria:
According to Health24 Malaria occurs when a parasite from the species Plasmodium infects a person's red blood cells. Malaria is endemic to areas where the Anopheles mosquito (that carries the disease) occurs – usually in hot humid climates.
The cycle of malaria starts when a female Anopheles mosquito bites a person with malaria and ingests blood containing malarial parasites. When the mosquito bites another person, the parasites are injected into the body along with the mosquito's saliva.
Once in the body, the parasites circulate in the bloodstream until they reach the liver, where they multiply and mature over an average of 1 to 2 weeks. Thereafter the parasites leave the liver and enter the blood stream and infect red blood cells, where they multiply and eventually cause the infected cells to rupture. The parasites released from the ruptured red blood cells infect even more red blood cells, setting off the cycle once more.
If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs.
Malaria symptoms Include:
The first symptoms usually appear between 7 and 10 days after the patient was bitten and are very similar to that of the flu – fever, chills, muscle pain and headaches. After a few days, the typical cyclical symptoms of malaria (or periodic attacks) may occur – chills, followed firstly by a high fever, and them by profuse sweating.
Malaria may also present with unusual symptoms such as abdominal pain and nausea. In rare cases there may not be the typical fever. Any symptom of illness after visiting a tropical country with malaria should therefore alert one to the possibility that one may indeed have malaria.
In severe cases the patient may experience convulsions or go into a coma.
Before going to a malaria area, it is very important to get updated information on whether prophylaxis is required and what the current recommendations are. It is best to seek advice from health professionals who specialise in the requirements of travellers.
The following anti-malarial medication is available in South Africa:
Mefloquine, Atovaquone, Doxycycline - visit Health24 for full details.
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