South Africa is experiencing a rise in malaria cases in the endemic provinces and Gauteng. The National Institute of Communicable Diseases says there have been a number of severe cases due to late detection.
“Undiagnosed and untreated malaria rapidly progresses to severe illness, with a potentially fatal outcome,” the NICD says in a statement.
It says anyone with fever and flu-like illness, who has travelled to malaria-risk areas of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga in the last six weeks, must test for malaria.
Recent heavy rains and more people travelling during the recent Easter holidays possibly caused the rise in cases.
Let your doctor know of travel to malaria-risk areas
“(They) must be tested for malaria by blood smear microscopy or malaria rapid diagnostic test. If they test positive for malaria, the patient must start on malaria treatment immediately.”
Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease. The blood parasites of the genus Plasmodium cause it. It is transmitted by the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites first multiply in the liver and then infect the red blood cells.
Malaria major cause of death from communicable diseases
Patients must inform their healthcare provider of their recent travel, particularly to neighbouring countries and malaria-risk areas in South Africa.
Globally, malaria is one of the six major causes of death from communicable diseases. 90% of the world’s approximately 440 000 annual malaria deaths occur in Africa. In the last few years, (2015-2019) South Africa has had between about 10 000 and 30 000 notified cases of malaria per year. The National Department of Health planned to eliminate it (i.e. no local transmission) by 2023.
However, there are increasing problems with the importation of malaria cases, vector control spraying programme delivery, vector insecticide resistance, and many health provision challenges that stand in the way of this objective. – Health-e News