Malaria season update
Date: 19th December 2013
Malaria transmission in Limpopo is seasonal with cases normally at their highest during the summer rainy season. As we are approaching the middle of the summer, reported malaria cases are to be expected in the known malaria transmission areas. Limpopo is epidemic prone to malaria and seasonal increases or outbreaks of malaria can occur. Few cases are reported in the winter from the malaria risk areas, with cases increasing during the rainy and hot summer season, with Vhembe and Mopani the high risk areas.
The notified malaria cases are mostly confined to the known malaria high-risk areas in Limpopo namely the north eastern parts of Vhembe district and eastern Mopani. Hospitals that reported Malaria cases were Donald Fraser (Sibasa), Musina, Malamulele, Nkhensani (Giyani) and Maputha Malatji (Ba-Phalaborwa) Hospitals.
During October 2013, 217 cases were notified, with cases increasing to 365 during November 2013. For December 2013, 142 cases were notified up to the 18th. For the current (2013/2014) financial year, from April 2013 up to 18th December 2013, 1498 cases have been reported. This is up from the corresponding time in the 2012/2013 financial year (April to December), which was 548. That was the lowest number of reported cases for Limpopo in the past 15 years. For the corresponding time frame (Apr – Dec) in previous years, the cases were reported as follows:
2011/12: 1803 cases
2010/11: 2854 cases
2009/10: 1488 cases
2008/09: 1975 cases
2007/08: 2285 cases
These figures tell us that the reported cases for this financial year are not out of the ordinary. Confirmed malaria-related deaths in this time frame for the current financial year is 14, which is a 1% fatality rate. This compares to 1.4% for 2012/13, 0.7% for 2011/12, 1.08% for 2010/2011 and 1.09% FOR 2009/2010.
Malaria cases are still below the provincial epidemic thresholds used to monitor the notified malaria cases. The Department of Health monitors all health facilities in the province on a daily basis to detect any increases and to respond to those. As there is always a potential for focal malaria outbreaks in Limpopo, and these occur every year, monitoring systems with calculated weekly thresholds are in place as an early warning system.
In order to ensure optimum malaria control during the current malaria season, the Department of Health has the following activities in place:
Malaria indoor residual spraying is underway in all the malaria risk areas, with 42 teams currently involved in spraying at community level. The target is to spray 990,000 structures during the current malaria season. Of these, 560,000 structures have already been sprayed.
Malaria diagnostic tests and treatment are available at all health facilities.
Each notified malaria case is fully investigated to ensure that the necessary measures are in place to prevent and reduce transmission, in these communities.
Communities are kept informed of the risk of malaria at all times and health seeking behaviour is encouraged.
During December, there is traditionally extensive movement of people between malaria high risk areas outside the provincial boundaries and communities in Limpopo. This can contribute to increase transmission and additional precautions need to be taken when visiting countries to the north of South Africa.
General Information on the Prevention of Malaria
Remain indoors between dusk and dawn.
When outdoors at night, wear long-sleeved clothing to protect exposed skin.
Spray the house inside with an aerosol insecticide (for flying insects) at dusk, especially the bedrooms, after closing the windows.
Burn mosquito coils or burn mosquito mats in living and sleeping areas during the night.
Use mosquito-proof bed net, with edges tucked in under the mattress.
Individuals from outside malaria risk areas, visiting high risk areas, can take antimalarial drugs to protect themselves against malaria.
Make provision for drainage of rain and household water near houses.
See that there is no standing water in either ground pools or articles like empty cans or old car tyres near houses.
Build houses and villages away from marshy areas and rivers that are potential breeding areas for mosquitoes.
Install gauze screens in front of outside doors and windows of houses.
Co-operate with malaria control teams during the spraying of houses.
Communities with the capacity to do spraying (e.g. farming communities and game ranges), can also embark on their own spraying campaigns by spraying the interior walls of houses with long-acting insecticides. This also applies to the application of larvicides to standing water that cannot be drained.
Symptoms of malaria.
The symptoms of malaria are very similar to flu e.g. headache, fever, muscular and joint pains, sweating, shivering attacks, nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue.
Diagnoses and Treatment.
Malaria is a treatable disease. If any of the above symptoms develop, people should immediately consult their nearest clinic, health centre, hospital or doctor. It should be mentioned that the patient was in a malaria risk area.
The patient should be tested immediately for malaria (insist on a blood test). In the majority of cases, examination of blood smears will reveal the malaria parasites. If not found initially, further specimens should be examined by an experienced laboratory before the infection is excluded, as false negatives may be found on initial examination. Appropriate treatment should be given immediately. .
Issued by: The Department of Health
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