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South Africans urged to take extra precautions against malaria when travelling over the festive season

Malaria New life-saving Malaria vaccine launched in Malawi

The holidays have arrived, and many South Africans will be travelling to enjoy a well-deserved break.

 

Goodbye Malaria, an organisation fighting malaria in Southern Africa has consulted with Professor Lucille Blumberg, Deputy Director at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) to impart some wisdom for those travelling through Southern Africa this month.

Malaria season in Southern Africa is from September to the end of May – the height of which is January to March.

“While the number of malaria cases reported in 2018 to date from South Africa are down compared to 2017, and malaria transmissions remain low in Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana, malaria still remains a year-round risk in countries like Mozambique and their surrounding areas.” Says Blumberg.

Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Reduce contact with mosquitoes by limiting outdoor activity after dark, covering up bare skin (not forgetting feet and ankles) and using mosquito repellents and insecticide coils
  • Ensure that there are mosquito screens on doors and windows are closed at night
  • Use bed nets, fans or air-conditioning, if available
  • Consider antimalarial prophylaxis in higher risk areas – doxycycline and atovaquone-proguanil are available without prescription from pharmacies
  • Public sector travel clinics will also supply prophylaxis to travelers
  • If you are traveling in your car, spray your vehicle with mosquito repellent after every stop, as mosquitos are known for their fondness of hitchhiking. When you arrive at your holiday destination, ensure that every room is sprayed
  • Ensure that there is no stagnant water around your home or destination, this is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos
  • Do some research on your holiday destination to ascertain whether there have been recent cases of malaria infections. If malaria is prevalent at your destination be especially vigilant taking extra precautions such as mosquito nets, mosquito repellent and protective clothing. See malaria risk map here.

While these precautions will substantially reduce the chance of acquiring malaria, the risk is never completely abolished.

“All travelers returning from malaria transmission areas, including very low-risk ones, should consult their doctors or clinics about ‘flu-like’ illness like headache, fever, chills, muscle and joint pain that occurs up to six weeks after first exposure, in case it is malaria.” Says Prof. Blumberg

“Through sustained efforts, the malaria map has shrunk from 100 years ago to about 50% of the world today – so we can beat it. Sadly, 70% of malaria deaths effect little ones under 5 years and we urge all South African’s to be overly cautious this festive season, particularly when traveling to northern Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.” Sherwin Charles, CEO and co-founder for Goodbye Malaria


Sources: Goodbye Malaria
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