The 20th of August is World Mosquito Day and even though there have been numerous advancements in the medical space concerning malaria, there is still a need to create awareness around the world’s deadliest insect.
World Mosquito Day marks the anniversary of the discovery that mosquitoes transmit the parasite that causes malaria. 126 years later, mosquito-borne diseases are still both widespread and difficult to treat. Even with global efforts to curb the impact of the disease on vulnerable populations, malaria continues to cause the death of many humans.
Studies from UNICEF claim that nearly every minute, a child under five dies of malaria. And many of these deaths are preventable and treatable. In 2021, 247-million malaria cases were opened, which led to 619 000 deaths. Because of this, it’s important to continue to create awareness about malaria so that these deaths can be prevented.
Areas of South Africa near borders such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique continue to be areas where malaria may occur, including some areas of the Kruger National Park. Here are the signs and symptoms to look out for if you’ve recently travelled to malaria-risk areas:
Signs and Symptoms of Malaria
- flu-like symptoms
- Muscle ache
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also occur
- Potential yellowing of the skin
- If you start to experience any of the above symptoms about 10 days after being in a malaria-risk area, contact your doctor immediately. It’s possible to experience symptoms as early as seven days, but typically they arise 10 to 14 days after infection.
- The above symptoms then rapidly escalate and can become a severe life-threatening disease. Your doctor will be able to confirm that it is malaria after a blood test. The appropriate medication will then be prescribed. Hospitalisation may be necessary.
- Some types of malaria stay in your system for years and may cause a “relapse”. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you have this type.
If you have any concerns about contracting malaria on your travels, consult with your medical doctor for the best way to manage the risk.