Confusion over Gauteng malaria cases

Johannesburg - A Gauteng resident has died of malaria after mysteriously contracting it without a recent history of travelling to a high-risk area.

The person was among six people who were diagnosed with the disease without having travelled to areas with a high risk of malaria.

The cases were reported last month.

According to Dr Lucille Blumberg, of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, it is very rare for people who have not travelled to endemic areas to contract malaria.

She said the only explanation would be that the mosquitoes had hidden themselves in the cars driven by the holidaymakers who were returning home, or had hidden themselves in suitcases or other containers.

“It’s not common that mosquitoes find a way into containers or suitcases of the holidaymakers. Even if they do, they are not going to survive for long,” Blumberg said.

She said three cases were reported in Kempton Park and the other three near Bronkhorstspruit.

But Blumberg said there was no need to panic as this had affected a small group who had not travelled. “It’s a very small number,” she said.

Blumberg urged people who had travelled to malaria-prevalent areas such as Mozambique to seek medical help immediately if they developed flu-like symptoms.

“They must go and see a doctor to get a test for malaria done. If it’s treated early, it will be easy to deal with it. The problem starts when they have left it for too long, then it will not be easy to treat it,” she said.

Blumberg also urged people who visit areas such as Mpumalanga around Mbombela, the Kruger National Park and some parts of Limpopo and northern areas of KwaZulu-Natal to use mosquito repellents.

“They have to find a way to prevent mosquito bites while in these areas,” Blumberg said.

She said there were other cases of malaria that had been reported in Gauteng, but those were from people who had recently travelled to malaria-prevalent areas.

However, she said the statistics had not been finalised.