A combination of factors has resulted that the malaria areas of South Africa are experiencing unusually high numbers of malaria cases, and expectations are that the situation will worsen
in the coming months. Visitors are advised that the Kruger National Park and adjoining areas fall within the malaria area, and precautionary measures should therefore be taken when entering this region. Malaria is caused by a microscopic blood-parasite, transmitted by certain species of Anopheles
mosquitoes. Symptoms usually develop between 7 and 15 days after being bitten by an infective mosquito, but slightly longer incubation periods may occur.
The situation in the Kruger National Park
For the past decade, the number of malaria cases recorded annually from Kruger has
fluctuated between 70 and 600. For a variety of reasons - such as most tourists taking prophylactic medication, few resident staff members taking anti-malarials, and the high-risk areas some residents are based in, more than 95% of these malaria cases occur amongst the
relatively few staff residing permanently in the Park. Few cases are recorded from amongst the approximately 900 000 visitors to the Park. Recent surveys have suggested that the
chance of an average visitor getting malaria is roughly 1 in 24 000. What is the Kruger Park doing to address the problem?
Malaria is a national problem and the broader control aspects are co-ordinated and implemented by the Department of Health. In collaboration with that Department, the KNP routinely treats all visitor accommodation units with insecticide for control of adult
mosquitoes. Breeding sites around selected camps are also treated against mosquito larvae, and residential units are fitted with mosquito gauze on the windows. Information brochures
and displays at entrance gates and shops also increase awareness amongst our visitors of the need for caution.
Safety measures for visitors
Most malaria cases occur in the wet season between October and May each year, with the months February to May being the peak risk period. During these months visitors are advised
to use anti-malarial medication. Most Travel Clinics and malaria advisors recommend a combination of daily Paludrine and weekly chroloquine (commercial names Daramal,
Nivaquine, Plasmoquine etc.), or a weekly dose of Larium. It should nevertheless be understood there is no anti-malarial, which is guaranteed 100% effective. Malaria advisors
increasingly emphasise the importance of minimising contact with mosquitoes by applying certain basic measures.
This can be achieved by applying repellent substances such as Tabard, Peaceful Sleep or a number of other products, burning mosquito coils or using vaporising mats, and wearing socks
and shoes during the evening. Research has shown that most local malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in South Africa bite on the ankles or feet.
The activity period for the malaria mosquitoes is from dusk until just after dawn.
Who are at particular risk?
Pregnant woman, babies and small children, elderly persons, and people with low resistance to infection should take particular care to avoid getting malaria. Both Paludrine and chloroquine are well tolerated by pregnant women, and can be taken throughout pregnancy. Symptoms to watch for
Malaria is often misdiagnosed, especially in areas where doctors do not often get such patients. If any of the following symptoms are present - fever, chills, headache, muscular pain, and nausea - medical tests should immediately be made and treatment commenced if
necessary. When being examined, the doctor should be informed that the visitor has been to a malaria area.
For more information about malaria in the Kruger National Park, contact: Dr Leo Braack
General Manager: Conservation Development Tel: (013) 735-5611 Fax: (013) 735-5467
Cell: 082-808-9659 Media Contact: Dr Salifou Siddo
Head: Corporate Affairs South African National Parks
Tel: (012) 343-9770 Fax: (012) 343-0153 E-mail: [email protected]
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