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10 March 2017

Rustenburg – A warning of a malaria outbreak has been spreading like wildfire on social media, saying, “There have been multiple reports of Malaria in Swartruggens and Rustenburg as of 7 March 2017.”

After consultation with three local doctors on Thursday, 9 March 2017, the alleged malaria outbreak in Rustenburg cannot be confirmed at this stage.

“We cannot confirm any outbreak,” Marissa Breedt, practice manager at Dr Steyn’s practice said (014-597 3040). Yolandé Breytenbach, manager at the Medicross Medical Centre (014-523 5100) also knows of no reported incidents. Rencha Erasmus (014-592 7404), practice manager at Dr Willie van der Merwe’s practice also confirmed that they also cannot confirm any reported incidents.

Malaria Risk Areas - Southern Africa

However, a new species of mosquito has been implicated in spreading malaria in South Africa.

Nine scientists led by Ashley Burke said the discovery of a new species of mosquito was a blow to South Africa’s hopes of eliminating malaria within its borders by 2018. Two Anopheles vaneedeni females (from Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal) trapped by a team from the Wits Research Institute for Malaria were found to be carrying the parasite that causes the most dangerous form of the disease.

A patient (60) from Lindleyspoort, near Swartruggens, was transported to the Life Peglerae private hospital in Rustenburg, where she died of malaria in February 2017. 

Nonetheless, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Monday, 6 March 2017, that two cases of malaria detected in Doornpoort in Tshwane do not represent an outbreak of malaria in South Africa.

The institute confirmed on Monday that two people died from the disease in the past week due to complications. The institute says the two cases are isolated and South Africans should not be alarmed. The institute’s professor Lucille Blumberg says, “These are rare events and we’re not going to see a malaria epidemic in Tshwane or related districts.”

What do we know about Malaria?

  • Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms). 
  • Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death. 
  • Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after being bitten by the mosquito carrying malaria. If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later.
  • In those who have recently survived an infection, re-infection usually causes milder symptoms. This partial resistance disappears over months to years if the person has no continuing exposure to malaria.
  • Through good malaria control efforts, the disease is now restricted to certain districts in three provinces; namely the north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, parts of Mpumulanga and Limpopo. These areas have conditions that are suitable for malaria transmission.
  • The mosquitoes which do carry the malaria parasite belong to the anopheles group. The mosquitoes which carry the parasites in malaria endemic areas generally bite between dusk and dawn.
     

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