Malaria in southern Africa

People used to think that Malaria was caused by "bad air" rising from swamps - hence the name "malaria"

Malaria Information

The information provided has been provided by certified authorities and will make your visit to Africa safe and rewarding one. We still recommend you visit your doctor before visiting a Malaria area.

It is a well-known fact that malaria is one of the most serious and common tropical diseases in the world. However, there is no reason why this disease should deter you from coming to Africa if the necessary precautions are taken. Please note that if precautions are not taken and / or if the disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it could be potentially fatal.

Malaria is a word many people associate with game parks in Africa. However only the greater KrugerPark area is in a malaria risk zone, although even here the risk is usually low. Historically there have been incidences of malaria in other parks, but then there are recorded incidences of malaria from urban Europe and other non-risk areas.

Malaria prophylactics are thus recommended for visitors for Kruger.

The risk for malaria increases from September. September to May is considered the malaria season. Overall control initiatives have been very successful in the malaria transmission areas. The risk remains low in KwaZulu-Natal and is confined to the very far northern KZN.

There is no malaria in the Drakensberg, Hhluhlwe and Umfolozi Game Parks and St Lucia areas. The risk of malaria in the Kruger National Park will increase and malaria chemoprophylaxis needs to be considered.

Mozambique has year round malaria and the risks in southern Zambia, Zimbabwe (Vitoria Falls) will likewise increase.

Measures to reduce mosquito bites (the malaria mosquitoes are most active from sunset to sunrise) are essential and include application of DEET containing insect repellents to exposed areas, wearing of long pants and socks and sleeping under a mosquito net.

Very often (particularly after periods of low rainfall) the malaria risk in Kruger is very low. Many people decide not to take prophylactics and rather try to avoid getting bitten. The most vulnerable times are between dusk and dawn. People are advised to stay indoors during these periods, or cover exposed skin with light clothing or insect repellents. The ankles are the most critical area. Burning anti-mosquito coils and ensuring netted screens are kept closed are other preventative measures.

While malaria prophylactics are recommended, no prophylactic is foolproof and any person developing flu-like symptoms 7 to 20 days (or even longer) after being in malaria areas should be tested immediately for malaria, until the symptoms clear or an alternative diagnosis is made. It is important to advise medical practitioners that you have been in a malaria area to avoid incorrect diagnosis.

The threat of malaria should not affect your decision to enjoy and experience the Kruger Park, but is just something one should be aware of and take precautions to be exposed to.

Prophylactic Measures To Prevent Malaria

Before traveling to remote areas, it may be wise to obtain a supply of emergency medication to take with you. This should only be used if it is not possible to consult a doctor. It is most important to note that no preventative measures are 100% safe. Should flu-like symptoms and signs like body pain, headache and fever develop 7 to 20 days or longer after visiting an endemic area, daily testing should be performed until you are better or another definite diagnosis is made.

Malaria Can Be Prevented In The Following Ways

The most important and most effective way of preventing malaria is firstly to prevent mosquito bites. The following preventative measures can be taken:

  • Remain indoors from dusk to dawn if possible as mosquitoes usually feed in the early evenings and mornings.
  • Cover your arms and legs towards evenings with light coloured clothing to cover exposed skin areas and especially the ankles. Wear long sleeved shirts, long trousers, socks and closed shoes.
  • Apply insect repellents to exposed skin areas every 4-6 hours.
  • Burn insecticide oils or electrically heated insecticide tablets in the bedroom at night.
  • Spray knock-down insecticide for flying insects inside the bedroom in the early evening with windows / doors closed if there are no window screens.
  • Screened mosquito proof windows and doors and Mosquito nets guard against Mosquito bites.
  • Clothes and nets impregnated with Pyrethroid could be used.

Another way of preventing malaria is to take additional preventative drugs when visiting an endemic area, especially in the warm and rainy months from October to May. Consult your doctor for more information in this regard.