The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is urging everyone presenting with a fever or a 'flu-like' illness residing in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga or people who have travelled to Mozambique recently to be tested for malaria. According to the NICD, patients who test positive for malaria need to start on treatment immediately.
“Despite South Africa entering its peak malaria season, many malaria cases are being misdiagnosed as the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Both malaria and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, including fever, chills, headaches, fatigue and muscle pain,” the NICD says in a statement.
Other symptoms of malaria include vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea.Undiagnosed and untreated malaria rapidly progresses to severe illness, with a potentially fatal outcome, the NICD cautioned.
Patients should inform their healthcare provider of recent travel to neighbouring countries and local malaria risk areas.
Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga are considered South Africa’s malaria risk areas, while Mozambique is among the 10 nations with the highest burden of the fatal disease worldwide.
“Odyssean or ‘taxi malaria', which is transmitted by hitch-hiking mosquitoes, should be considered in a patient with unexplained fever who has not travelled to a malaria area, but is getting progressively sicker,” the NICD explained.
Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by bites of infected mosquitoes.
Globally, malaria is one of the six major causes of death from communicable diseases, of which 90% of the world’s approximately 440 000 annual malaria fatalities occur in Africa.
According to the NICD’s data, from 2015 to 2019, South Africa had between 10 000 and 30 000 notified cases of malaria per year.
To get tested for malaria, visit your nearest healthcare centre. - SAnews.gov.za