Concerns grow over Limpopo malaria outbreak

Limpopo has seen an increasing number of malaria infections and subsequent deaths, with 1 648 cases and three deaths having been reported in the region, according to Outbreak News Today. An alert from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of South Africa has also been released.

Zoutnet recently reported that Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba had confirmed that 620 patients had been admitted to hospital for treatment in 2017 during her visit to the Donald Fraser and Malamulele hospitals in the province on 2 May, as concerns grew around the infectious disease.

In March, two women from northern Pretoria, who had reportedly not travelled to high-risk areas, died from infection. It is believed that infection could have been a result of infectious mosquitoes translocated via minibus, car or aeroplane from a high-risk region. Neighbouring high-risk regions include Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Peak season for the mosquito-borne disease is usually October through to April. While news reports have attributed the growing outbreak to heavy rainfalls and subsequent floods, the NICD has cited the recent increase in infections to Easter holiday travellers between South Africa and neighbouring countries.

It has also reported that the 2016/17 season saw 9 478 malaria cases being reported, with 5 177 of those being imported. A lower number of cases (6 375) were reported in the previous season as a result of the drought, with 4 752 cases being imported.

People who have travelled to high-risk areas or live in susceptible areas should consult a medical practitioner or report to their nearest healthcare facility should they experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, sweats, headaches, chills, nausea and vomiting, body aches and discoloration of the eyes, skin, and/or general malaise. The incubation period is 10-14 days.

For more information, visit the World Health Organisation website.

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