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Odyssean malaria case treated in Gauteng

A man living in an informal settlement in Ekurhuleni has been successfully treated for odyssean malaria, also known as airport, suitcase, minibus, or taxi-rank malaria.

Since 2007, 69 such cases have been recorded in South Africa, mostly in Gauteng. The absence of a travel history often leads to the diagnosis being delayed, with flu being most commonly assumed as the cause of illness.

The man, who lives in Ramaphosa informal settlement, was diagnosed on 12 October, reports News24, with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) saying he had no history of travel to a malaria-endemic area. He had apparently started feeling unwell six months ago, his symptoms worsening in early October, said the agency.

“He arrived at Tambo Memorial Hospital with nausea and vomiting, headache, malaise and myalgia, as well as epistaxis. Treatment was initiated, the patient recovered and he was discharged on ferrous sulphate supplements and antiretroviral treatment (ART) because he is HIV-positive.”

After investigations, the NICD said that no anopheles adult mosquitoes or larvae were found in his household or the surrounding area, “which included a flowing, open street drain, some 5m away”.

“Among the ten people who live on the property, two are from the endemic-malaria countries of Malawi and Mozambique. But they had not visited their home countries in more than three months, nor received visitors from there.”

It is suspected he caught the disease at a taxi rank close to his home.

“This not only provides ample opportunities for mosquitoes to travel to and from the area but is also a social gathering point. It is likely that this was a single case of odyssean non-falciparum malaria."

He could have been bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito that was “inadvertently transported from a malaria-endemic area via a vehicle, like a minibus”.

Early this year, a seven-year-old Western Cape girl was diagnosed with odyssean malaria, which was possibly linked to a neighbour who had travelled to Mozambique.


News24 article – Ekurhuleni man treated for odyssean malaria, despite no history of travel to endemic areas (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


NICD alert: One death due to Odyssean malaria in Pretoria


Cases of odyssean malaria reported in Pretoria


NICD releases increased malaria risk advisory




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