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South African Family Practice

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The Malaria Season Is Upon Us

RL Van Zyl

Abstract


The arrival of our summer rains brings with it Anopheles mosquitos buzzing around our ankles with the prospect of a nutritious meal. Unbeknownst to the female Anopheles mosquito, she has increased the risk of our becoming an annual statistic by being infected with malaria. Malaria is endemic in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern KwaZulu-Natal provinces, but the unpredictable occurrence of Odyssean or airport/suitcase malaria anywhere in South Africa highlights the fact that we should remain vigilant for the possibility of a rogue infection. Unfortunately for those living in sub-Saharan Africa, the likelihood of being infected with potentially lethal Plasmodium falciparum is high; necessitating the need to be informed of the initial symptoms of malaria and to ask the right questions about effective measures to prevent mosquito bites and being infected with malaria. The recommendation of taking chemoprophylaxis (mefloquine, atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline) along with the correct clothing, DEET repellents and insecticidal treated bed nets should be considered when entering these areas during September to May. The definitive diagnosis of malaria warrants the immediate administration of artemether-lumefantrine to clear the parasite; whilst the addition of primaquine is required to eradicate the extra-erythrocytic stages of P. ovale, P. malariae or P. vivax in a mixed infection.

Keywords: malaria, prophylaxis, treatment, Anopheles, South Africa




AJOL African Journals Online