Fochville mom's malaria death likely from 'travelling mosquito'

2016-04-20 13:18
Natalie Cilliers (Netwerk24)

Natalie Cilliers (Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - There is no need to be concerned after a young Fochville mother died from malaria, and another two people were infected with the disease, according to health officials.

Natalie Cilliers, 31, died on March 29, and two other patients were diagnosed with malaria at Mediclinic Potchefstroom in a short period of time, Netwerk24 reported on Wednesday.

Health24: Malaria

Diana King, spokesperson for Mediclinic Potchefstroom, told News24 that the other two malaria patients, who were members of the same family, were admitted to the hospital at about the same time, and were discharged when their health improved.

There have been no other reported cases in the area.

Professor Lucille Blumberg of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) told News24 on Wednesday that it was an isolated case and most probably an odyssean malaria outbreak, due to a travelling mosquito.

"This is something we see from time to time, where infected mosquitoes travel from a known malaria area. Usually it's isolated and the same mosquito, and that's the end of the story," she said.

There are two to three such incidents a year, and probably many others that officials do not pick up, she added.

"They are not common: first you need an infected mosquito and many of them aren't actually infected; then it needs to hop a lift; it has to survive the journey; survive at the other end; and then bite somebody."

The infected mosquitoes do not set up a transmission cycle at the other end as they need the right conditions for surviving and breeding.

'Malaria is very treatable'

"The message is that there is no malaria moving into areas where it is not traditionally happening.

"If somebody is travelling to a known malaria area, they need to take precautions, be aware, and if they develop flu-like symptoms, seek urgent treatment. Malaria is very treatable, but when people die it's mostly because of late diagnosis and treatment."

According to an article on the SA Medical Journal, co-authored by Blumberg, odyssean malaria is malaria transmitted by translocated mosquitoes, with road, rail and air traffic from endemic areas the source of most of the infected mosquitoes. "Because of the unexpected nature of the disease, diagnosis is often delayed and severe and complicated malaria is common."

The article concludes that odyssean malaria cases are inevitable in South Africa. "It is likely that many cases are missed, owing to the rare and sporadic nature of the condition. Malaria should always be kept in mind as a cause of unexplained fever and thrombocytopenia, even in the absence of a travel history."

Netwerk24 reported that Cilliers, who had two children aged 5 and 8, was initially misdiagnosed when she developed chills, a headache and joint pain, as she had not been in a malaria area.

She died four days later at a private hospital in Carletonville. Her boyfriend, who is a building contractor in Mozambique, flew back when her condition worsened and sat with her holding her hand before she died.

Read more on:    nicd  |  johannesburg  |  health

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