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Malaria Print

With recent high rainfalls there is an abundance of disease transmitting mosquitoes. Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by them.



It was once thought that the disease came from fetid marshes, hence the name mal aria, (bad air). In 1880, scientists discovered the real cause of malaria a one-cell parasite called plasmodium. Later they discovered that the parasite is transmitted from person to person through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito, which requires blood to nurture her eggs.



Malaria is the most dreaded tropical disease in South Africa. The disease can be fatal if it is not diagnosed and treated at an early stage; it is known to kill a child in Africa every 30 seconds. Malaria is overshadowed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but it rates amongst the five top preventable and treatable diseases in Africa. It continues to kill thousands of children under the age of five years old. Each year there are over 300 million clinical cases of malaria. That is five times as many as combined cases of TB, AIDS, measles and leprosy. Malaria is responsible for one out of every four childhood deaths in Africa.


Today approximately 40% of the world's population - mostly those living in the world's poorest countries is at risk of malaria. The disease was once more widespread but it was successfully eliminated from many countries with temperate climates during the mid 20th century. Today malaria is found throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world and causes at least one million deaths annually. Many children who survive an episode of severe malaria may suffer from learning impairments or brain damage. In pregnancy, malaria poses a risk to the health of both mother and foetus, which is a major cause of perinatal mortality, low birth weight and maternal anaemia. Real full blown Malaria can be quite a frightening experience, and you would not want to be alone, the fevers are intense coupled with frightening hallucinations.




High risk areas

Precautionary measures must be taken in risk areas. Malaria occurs in the low altitude areas (approx 1000metres above sea level) of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the north-eastern part of Kwa Zulu Natal. Limited focal transmission may develop in the North West and Northern Cape provinces along the Molopo and Orange Rivers. Those are noted as high risk areas. Infections are seldom contracted outside the malarial areas and are then possibly a consequence of the importation of infected mosquitoes by motor or other modes of transport.


Precautionary measures should be taken in all the high-risk areas throughout the year, where "anti-malarial medication" is recommended. The intermediate risk areas include the following tourist areas: Kwa Zulu Natal region only -- Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay, Mkuze Game Reserve and St Lucia Lake In these areas the use of "anti-malarial medication" is recommended from October to May. No "anti-malarial medication" is recommended for low risk areas. Malaria symptoms may only develop quite a while after leaving the malaria area. This can reduce suspicion of malaria to the detriment of the patient, especially as many people believe that prophylaxis is a guarantee against malaria. It is therefore very important that anyone experiencing any malaria or flu-like symptoms after having been in a malaria area seeks help immediately.



When travelling look to stock up on essential oils such as citronella, or lemon based oils to prevent the mosquito taking that one bite. It can be sprayed in the vehicle before travel, the use of citronella soaps and candles are useful. Apple cider vinegar should always travel with you, it is cheap it is available everywhere and applied to any insect bite in it's natural undiluted form is very effective and stops the scratch cycle. Mosquitoes feed between dusk and dawn, both indoors and outdoors. The prevention of mosquito bites is the most effective and important way to prevent malaria. Preventative measures should always be taken in high risk malaria areas. Schweppes Tonic water is a good preventative against Malaria due to its quinine content.



sk/2008-03-07 12:00:00

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