The number of malaria cases has increased over the past few weeks. The Times reports that according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases: “This is likely related to people travelling over the Easter holiday to malaria risk areas both within South Africa and in neighbouring countries. In particular‚ there has been some increase in the number of reported cases from the northern parts of the Kruger National Park and northern parts of Limpopo Province‚ including Mopani District‚” the NICD said.
“The rise in ambient temperature‚ and high rainfall and humidity experienced in the 2016/17 season in these areas provided good conditions for mosquito breeding‚ which led to the increased number of cases. However‚ the risk of malaria is expected to decrease as the weather cools.”
Noting that the usual incubation period for malaria is 10-14 days‚ the NICD is quoted in the report as saying that travellers from both low and high malaria risk areas who develop fever and flu-like symptoms should attend a healthcare facility or see their doctor for a malaria test‚ even if chemo-prophylaxis was taken. A negative malaria test does not always rule out malaria‚ and the test should be repeated if symptoms persist.
“Any person with a travel history to either a low or high malaria risk area who presents with fever and flu-like symptoms is unlikely to have influenza at this time‚ since the 2017 influenza season has not yet started‚” the institute noted.
It added that neighbouring countries have also seen a similar trend of rising cases due to similar weather patterns to those affecting South Africa. Significant malaria transmission has been reported in Mozambique‚ Zambia‚ Zimbabwe‚ Malawi‚ and parts of Botswana and Namibia. However‚ no increase in malaria cases was reported in Swaziland.
The report says travellers to malaria transmission areas are advised to consult their doctors for a risk assessment and to get advice on the necessary precautions and appropriate chemoprophylaxis. All travellers‚ whether travelling to low or high risk areas‚ are advised to be aware of the typical malaria symptoms of fever‚ chills‚ sweats‚ headaches‚ nausea and vomiting‚ body aches‚ general malaise and yellow discolouration of eyes/skin‚ and to report to their nearest health facility or doctor if they suspect that they may have contracted malaria.