Malaria And Travel Medicine 101

Malaria And Travel Medicine 101

There are many perks to changing seasons. These include, but are not limited to travelling, splashing in rivers and exposing your skin to cool off. It can, however, also be that time of the year when those pesky mosquitos like to come out to play (and boy do they bite).

Malaria is caused by a type of microscopic parasite that’s transmitted most commonly by mosquito bites. If you are going to travel outside of malaria-free regions this festive season; please take preventive medicine before, during and after your trip. This is particularly important because you may find malaria parasites that are immune to common drugs used to treat the disease.

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Interesting facts about malaria

  • Some types of malaria parasites can lie dormant in your body for up to a year after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • 25 April 2018 was World Malaria Day.
  • The theme for 2018’s World Malaria Day was “ready to beat malaria.”
  • At the time of writing the article, 61 cases were reported to the GERMS-SA network in 2018. GERMS-SA is a nationwide network of clinical microbiology laboratories.
  • South Africa’s malaria transmission is seasonal and mostly occurs between September to May (considered “high season months”).
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet on malaria, there were 445,000 malaria-related deaths across the world in 2016.
  • The World Malaria Report 2017 states that there were 216 million cases of malaria globally in 2016.

 

Know the common malaria symptom

You need to familiarise yourself with malaria signs and symptoms, particularly during the high season months. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Moderate to severe shaking chills
  • High fever
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Not only can malaria be transmitted by infected mosquitos, but it can also be passed on from a mother to her unborn child, through blood transfusions and from sharing needles.

 

Prevention is better than cure

You’re most at risk of developing malaria when you live in or visit tropical areas where the disease is common. However, thanks to the so-called “taxi malaria” and other influences, there are incidents where infected malaria mosquitoes are sometimes trapped in vehicles and transported to other provinces of South Africa, including Gauteng, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo.

If you have a high fever while living in or after travelling to a high-risk malaria region, reach out to your doctor or contact a U-Care Medical Centre to find out about travel medicine, which includes  Malaria Prophylaxis, blood tests, diagnosis, treatment and preventative solutions as well as your other travel clinic requirements.

Also, when going to such a high-risk malaria zone, spray your home with insecticide, use a bed net, cover your skin with long sleeved tops and pants and finally, spray your clothing and skin with products recommended by your doctor. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your registered health professional.

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