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What is Malaria

Malaria is a potentially fatal illness of tropical and subtropical regions. The disease is caused by a parasite which is transmitted to humans bitten by infected mosquitoes. The disease is widespread in Africa, and over one million people die of malaria every year on the continent, mostly children under the age of five.

Which areas harbour Malaria

Within South Africa the disease is encountered mainly in areas of Mpumalanga, Northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Limpopo Province. Looking at South Africa's neighbours, malaria is also considered to be a threat to travellers visiting the lower lying areas such as Swaziland, while it is encountered throughout Mozambique and Zimbabwe and much of Botswana. Northern Namibia is also a malaria area.

Within South Africa’s boarders, malaria transmission is at its highest during warmer and wetter months from September to May. The rest of the year is considered to be low risk, but low risk does not mean that there is no risk!

How to avoid Malaria

Prevention of malaria relies upon adopting personal protection measures designed to reduce the chances of attracting a mosquito bite, and the use of appropriate malaria medication. Both personal protection methods and anti-malaria medications are important, and neither should be neglected at the expense of the other.

Personal protection measures

Personal protection measures against mosquito bites include:

    • If possible, avoid being outdoors from dusk until dawn, when malaria carrying mosquitoes are likely to bite.
    • Wearing light coloured, long sleeved clothing to conceal as much of the body as practical, especially from dusk until dawn
    • Sleeping under insecticide impregnated mosquito nets,
    • The use of appropriate insect repellent containing di-ethyl toluamide (also know as DEET) which should be reapplied every 5 hours.
    • Permethrin fabric spray that is applied directly to clothing or fabrics. This lasts for 30 washes or 3 months
    • The spraying of sleeping quarters at night with a pyrethoid containing insecticide
    • The burning of an insecticide coil or the use of electronic vaporizing mats.
    • The use of ceiling fans or air conditioners in sleeping areas
    • Citronella oil based repellents should not be used due to their short duration of action[ 20 minutes]
    • Repellent-impregnated wristbands offer no protection.