Malaria respite in Limpopo and Mpumalanga

2017-05-14 10:37
A mosquito prepares to suck the human blood.

A mosquito prepares to suck the human blood.

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Cooling weather may ease risk, but this must not lead to complacency.

The number of new malaria cases is expected to drop in Limpopo and Mpumalanga as the weather cools, says the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

It warns people in the affected areas, however, to seek medical attention if they are showing symptoms of malaria.

Professor Lucille Blumberg said any person who travelled to low- and high-malaria risk areas and is experiencing fever and flu-like symptoms should go to a healthcare facility or see a doctor for a malaria test, even if they took malaria preventing medication.

“Malaria usually has an incubation period of 10 to 14 days, meaning it can take up to 10 days after the mosquito bite for symptoms to show. Typical malaria symptoms include fever, chills, sweats, headaches, body aches, general malaise, nausea and vomiting, plus yellow discolouration of the eyes or skin,” she said.

South Africa has experienced a malaria outbreak in the past few months in the northern parts of Limpopo and the Bushbuckridge area in Mpumalanga. The NICD has attributed this to high levels of rainfall and humidity, which provide good breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

Blumberg said there were a number of reasons, however, for the increase in malaria transmission in recent weeks.

“The malarial areas in South Africa are prone to epidemics because of the seasonal nature of malaria in the region. The current situation is due to a combination of increased rainfall and temperatures, while reduced insecticide spray coverage in some areas has probably played a part,” she said.

About 9 500 cases of malaria were reported in South Africa’s spring/summer season of 2016/17, of which 5 177 were imported cases, which means infected people were those who had travelled to neighbouring countries.

During the same period in 2015/16, there were 6 375 malaria cases; 4 752 of which were imported.

Blumberg and her team visited Limpopo on Wednesday, and said the province had been the hardest hit by the malaria outbreak.

“There have been 1 648 cases of malaria reported in Limpopo and three people have died. The outbreak is mostly in the Vhembe and Mopani districts, while some parts of Waterberg had an outbreak in February and early March,” she said.

Blumberg said that the outbreaks in Limpopo and Mpumalanga were unsurprising because the provinces were prone to malaria.

“Neighbouring countries have seen a similar trend of rising cases due to similar weather patterns to those affecting South Africa. Notably, significant malaria transmission has been reported in Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, as well as in parts of Botswana and Namibia. However, no increase in the number of cases was reported in Swaziland,” she said.

Blumberg urged anyone who had visited malaria areas not to simply dismiss their symptoms as flu because this year’s influenza season had not yet begun.

“Malaria is an emergency and urgent treatment is required. If the symptoms persist, even if a test was negative, the person must repeat the test until the symptoms are resolved,” Blumberg added.

Read more on:    mpumalanga  |  limpopo  |  malaria

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