#WorldMalariaDay: What travellers need to know

2017-04-25 11:41 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - The world has some amazing and far-flung destinations but the fact of the matter is that some of these spots carry some health risks. As world Malaria Day approaches there can be no better time to commemorate the global efforts to control malaria.  

Established in May 2007, the initiative aims to provide education and understanding of malaria as well as spread information on year-long intensified implementation of national malaria-control strategies, including community-based activities for malaria prevention and treatment in endemic areas.

SEE: World Malaria Day: Let's reduce malaria deaths by 90% in 2030

What you need to know about Malaria

Malaria is a tropical disease caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium. The infection occurs when an infected female mosquito bites you, or when you have a blood transfusion from an infected donor or use infected needles by a drug user. - see Health24

What are the symptoms?

According to Fedhealth depending on the species of mosquito, symptoms can take from seven to 35 days to start. It can be as long as six months or as short as five days in people who acquire it through blood transfusion or needle prick.

Symptoms include:

Tiredness and fatigue
Abrupt chills and fever (39° to 41° centigrade), which may cause profuse sweating
Quickened pulse
Muscle pains

Malaria is often also incorrectly diagnosed as the flu, so you need to keep a lookout for flu-like symptoms on your return. If you don’t treat it, malaria can quickly become life-threatening, by disrupting the blood supply to your vital organs – so it’s vital that if you experience any of these symptoms you head straight to your doctor for a diagnosis, says Fedhealth.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

According to Fedhealth to diagnose malaria, your doctor does a blood test and you may be hospitalised for observation. Malaria can be cured with prescription drugs but the type of drugs and length of treatment depends on the kind of malaria, where you were infected, your age, and how severely ill you are.

Another concern is that in some parts of the world, these pesky - sometimes deadly - parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medications. But don’t worry too much because in general, early treatment of uncomplicated malaria produces excellent results.

Where are the high-risk malaria areas?

According to the medical scheme, in terms of Southern Africa: Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana all have regions which hold varying degrees of malaria risk as does  South Africa. But check this all with your doctor or at a travel clinic before heading away on your trip.

SEE: ALERT: Limpopo on high alert as Botswana issues Malaria warning

How do I prevent malaria?


Fedhealth says the first thing is to check whether the area you are travelling to is a malaria area.  And if it is you need to take preventative medication.

"No drug therapy is 100% effective, but some can go a long way to preventing malaria." visit Health24 for full details.

It is important to note that the medical scheme says currently, the drug Malarone - a combination of atovaquone and proguanil  - is the "drug of choice when travelling to areas where chloroquine-resistant malaria exists."

"However, it’s best to consult your doctor before making any decisions on which medication to take. They will also tell you when to start taking the medication, as many courses should start about a week before you head off on holiday, and continue for a period after your return."

Avoiding mosquitoes

The other main way of preventing malaria is to try and avoid getting bitten by these buzzing and annoying creatures:

Wear clothing with long sleeves and cover your ankles – especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
Use long-lasting insecticide sprays inside your hotel room
Ensure that wire or gauze screens on all doors and windows are closed
Keep a fan on in the room during the night – the current seems to put off the mosquitoes
Apply mosquito repellents directly to the skin
Use mosquito netting over the beds
Try and spend evenings indoors rather than outdoors, as you’re much less likely to get bitten by mosquitoes.

SEE:7 things worth knowing about mosquitoes

NOTE: Anyone who says, “I’m too small to make a difference”, doesn’t know how annoying and often deadly a mosquito can be.

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