With focus on malaria awareness this month, ER24 is urging people to take precautions against the life-threatening disease when travelling to a high-risk area. Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, called Plasmodium, which is transmitted to people by the female Anopheles mosquito. The parasites multiply rapidly in the liver and red blood cells of the infected person.
It is vital for people to take medication prior to visiting a high-risk area to reduce chances of being infected. In South Africa, malaria is endemic in parts of north eastern KwaZulu-Natal, parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. High-risk African countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, Angola, Kenya and Malawi.
People who are at a higher risk of being infected by malaria include young children as well as pregnant women and people from non-endemic areas.
When visiting these areas you should:
– Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
– Use insect repellents that are available in the form of lotion and spray for example.
– Close doors and windows between dusk and dawn.
– Use a mosquito net.
Symptoms present one to two weeks after a person is infected. Symptoms may include fever, headaches, chills, joint pain, dizziness and vomiting. If you experience some or all of these symptoms, visit a doctor immediately. Medication must be completed to prevent further complications or death.
In 2012, an estimated 627,000 people died of malaria – most were young children in sub- Saharan Africa. Within the last decade, increasing numbers of partners and resources have rapidly increased malaria control efforts. This scale-up of interventions has saved 3.3 million lives globally and cut malaria mortality by 45%, leading to hopes and plans for elimination and ultimately eradication. CDC brings its technical expertise to support these efforts with its collaborative work in many malaria-endemic countries and regions.
Malaria occurs mostly in poor tropical and subtropical areas of the world. In many of the countries affected by malaria, it is a leading cause of illness and death. In areas with high transmission, the most vulnerable groups are young children, who have not developed immunity to malaria yet, and pregnant women, whose immunity has been decreased by pregnancy.
The costs of malaria – to individuals, families, communities, nations – are enormous. Centers
for Disease Control & Infection (CDC)