Lowveld visitors cautioned about winter malaria

Mosquito. (iStock)
Mosquito. (iStock)

Mbombela – Visitors to Mpumalanga's Lowveld, especially those going to the Kruger National Park, should take precautions against malaria this winter.

Many people believed there was no need to worry about malaria during winter months, which could make them vulnerable, said local pharmacist, Sarah-Anne Mitha.

“The rate of infection normally drops in the dryer months as the parasite needs water to breed. When it comes to chemoprophylaxis, the rule is to always say 'yes'. Don’t get caught unprepared. If untreated, it can be fatal,” she said.

Malaria would develop within 10 days to four weeks following infection. Symptoms included shaking chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The insects relied mostly on olfactory stimuli, or smell, to locate a host.

Beer drinkers beware

“They primarily search for carbon dioxide in order to find their next blood meal, which is released through our breath and skin. Certain things can increase our carbon dioxide productivity, such as an elevated heart rate during exercise, drinking alcohol, or eating spicy foods,” Mitha said.

Local tour advisor, Stellah Goosen, cautioned beer lovers to be especially diligent about applying repellents, as mosquitoes are known to like their blood.

A recent World Health Organisation study revealed that in addition to malaria, mosquitos spread diseases such as the Zika and West Nile viruses and dengue fever, leading to the deaths of more than one million people every year.

Mitha advised people to regularly apply repellents, wear long sleeves and long pants with socks and shoes, especially at dawn and dusk.


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