Thato Mahlangu
3 minute read
23 Mar 2017
10:33 am

The truth behind malaria in Pretoria

Thato Mahlangu

This comes after two women recently died from malaria in the north of Pretoria.

Image courtesy of stock.xchng

Health organisations are working hard to investigated the reported cases of malaria in Pretoria to determine their origin.

This comes after two women recently died from malaria in the north of Pretoria.

Cheryl Pieterse and Jolynn Hocanin of Doornpoort died within days of one another and neither had travelled to a known malaria transmission area, Rekord East reported.

“A team comprising members from the Vector Control Reference Laboratory at NICD, District Health Services, Environmental Health and Communicable Disease Control programmes is conducting an investigation in the area,” said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in a statement.

The NICD said it was likely the two patients acquired malaria from the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito inadvertently translocated from a malaria endemic area.

The institute said there was a bigger possibility the infected mosquito was translocated via a vehicle such as a minibus or car from a suitcase or an aeroplane.

The University of Pretoria’s Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC) said it was working hard to establish the truth.

The ISMC said it was conducting research on malaria vectors (mosquitoes), malaria parasites and human health.

The team behind this research said it would use a transdisciplinary approach.

“We are working towards malaria control and eventual elimination, focusing on new innovations for prevention.”

Malaria, a complex parasitic disease confined mostly to tropical areas and transmitted by female Anopheles mosquitoes, is unlike other infectious diseases in that it is not caused by a single biological entity.

“It is the result of a complex interplay between three biological systems, each with its own complex life cycle, environment, habits and pathogenesis profiles.”

The ISMC said it was adamant that Gauteng or Pretoria was not one of South Africa’s malaria-endemic areas

“The disease does not naturally occur there. It is endemic to low-lying areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal.”

“However, Gauteng does have a high number of malaria cases annually, some of which result in death.”

In 2014, there were 1 929 malaria cases reported in Gauteng and 28 people died from the disease.

These figures were the third highest among all the provinces in South Africa, higher than those reported in KwaZulu-Natal, according to the ISMC.

“Each year, news reports of malaria cases and deaths in Gauteng result in panic. These cases are always investigated, as they are in the endemic areas. In many cases the origin is identified as travelling malaria,” read a statement by the ISMC.

People who live in or travel to a malaria area should consider the following to avoid being bitten:

– Avoid going out between dusk and dawn when Anopheles mosquitos usually bite.

– Wear long-sleeved clothing whengoing out at night.

– Avoid wearing dark colours because they attract mosquitoes.

– Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.

– Stay in a well-constructed and well-maintained building in the most developed part of town.

– Use screens over windows and doors.

– Use anti-mosquito sprays or insecticide dispensers, or burn mosquito coils at night.

– Sleep under bed nets if possible.

READ MORE: Pretoria families mourn malaria victims’ death

– Caxton News Service

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