Malaria deaths in Pretoria: should you be worried?

By Charlea Sieberhagen
07 March 2017

The two victims reportedly lived in the same street in Pretoria.

The fact that two people recently died due to complications as a result of malaria doesn’t indicate an increase in incidents of the disease. This according to Nombuso Shabalala, spokesperson for the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). The two women, who lived in the same street in Doornpoort in the north of Pretoria, recently died after being diagnosed with the disease. According to Netwerk24 Cheryl Pieterse (58) started suffering from a flu and light infection, allegedly as a result of malaria, just days before her death. Jolynn Hocanin (33) died on Sunday afternoon.

Cheryl and Jolynn apparently both lived in Cassia Street.

According to a statement released by the NICD neither of the two victims had recently visited a malaria area.

Read more: This is why mosquitoes bite you

“A team comprising members from the Vector Control Reference Laboratory at NICD, District Health Services, Environmental Health and Communicable Disease Control programmes is conducting an investigation in the area.”

“They likely acquired malaria from the bite of an infective Anopheles mosquito inadvertently transported from a malaria endemic area via a vehicle such as a minibus, car, bus or aeroplane,” reads the statement.

Cases like these are rare, but a few incidents of “transported” malaria do occur every once in a while, especially between January and April.

But it doesn’t mean an increase in the disease in traditionally non-malaria areas in South Africa.

The illness can be effectively treated if it is diagnosed early enough, but more often than not – due its non-specific symptoms – it’s diagnosed too late. When someone hasn’t recently visited a malaria area then the disease is not considered a possible cause for the symptoms.

Due to recent heavy rains, warmer temperatures and high humidity more incidents of malaria have been reported in South Africa’s traditional malaria areas: the north east of Limpopo and the lowveld of Mpumalanga, as well as neighbouring countries like Mozambique.

Residents of or visitors to malaria areas who experience symptoms like high fevers or flu symptoms like pain, fever, muscle aches and sweating should urgently go for blood testing.

People set to travel to any of these areas within the next two months should take the necessary steps to avoid being bitten by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Preventative medication, which can be prescribed by any GP, must be taken by those travelling to these high risk areas.

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