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Joburg residents urged to be malaria wary

Johannesburg residents who will be travelling to malaria-risk areas during the festive season have been warned to remain indoors between dusk and dawn; wear long-sleeved clothing, long trousers and socks; apply insect repellents to exposed skin; and seal doors and windows with screens to stop mosquitos in their tracks.

The high malaria-risk areas include Musina, Phalaborwa, Skukuza, Hazyview, Komatipoort, Groot Letaba, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, Thornybush, Sabie Sand, Kruger National Park, Ndumo, Tembe, Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Hluhluwe, Umfolozi, Ithala, Phongolapoort, Maputo Elephant Reserve, Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Banhine National Park, Malolotja Nature Reserve and Mkhaya Nature Reserve.

Mary Daka, the City of Johannesburg’s Deputy Director of Health, has advised holidaymakers who will be visiting these areas to take precautionary measures whether or not they have taken drugs to prevent the disease before their departure.

The City’s Department of Health initiated the Malaria Education Programme after 199 cases of the disease with a travel history were reported in Johannesburg between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016.

The disease is transmitted from human to human by a single bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito sucks blood from the person who is sick with the disease, takes in parasite-like germs and carries them over to the next prey.

“There are many people who travel to malaria-endemic areas during the festive season. It is very important to take these precautionary measures because the disease is more prevalent during the summer season,” said Daka.

She warned that malaria could be deadly if not detected and treated early.

“People must know whether there are risks of contracting malaria in their holiday destinations. To ensure good health, everyone is advised to take these precautionary measures,” she said.

She said holidaymakers must also close their windows and doors at night and spray their rooms with an aerosol insecticide at dusk.

“This will help, especially in bedrooms. People can use mosquito mats impregnated with insecticide, which can be heated electrically or by lamps. Moreover, they can burn mosquito coils in living and sleeping areas during the night. They must treat their clothes with insecticides for extra protection,” Daka added.

Malaria symptoms are similar to those of a common flu, which include headaches, fever, muscular and joint pains, sweating, shivering attacks, nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue. Holidaymakers are advised to seek immediate medical attention should they have “flu-like” symptoms after leaving a malaria-risk area.

“The symptoms can still occur up to six months after leaving a malaria-risk area,” Daka said.​