11 May 2017

South Africa: Malaria Claims Lives in Gauteng, Mpumalanga

Johannesburg — About 20 people have died of Malaria in Gauteng in the past five months, according to Dr Chike Asomugha, a senior advisor for Public Health and Communicable Diseases, at the Hillbrow Clinic, in central Johannesburg.

Speaking to The Legislature Monitor, Dr Asomugha said Gauteng has about 950 cases of Malaria reported since the beginning of the year. He said the cases are a result of people travelling to the province from regions where the disease is an endemic.

Malaria is a disease that spreads as a parasite, transmitted through being bitten by a special mosquito called Anopheles.

Dr Asomugha said most of these cases have been found to be common in people who tend to travel within the country and across the borders.

"In Gauteng we don't have those mosquitos unless you travel to areas like Kruger National Park, Limpopo, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Nigeria for example.

Dr Asomugha said Gauteng is a very diverse province, as it has many nationalities, adding that it was suspected that people contracted the disease while travelling to these regions.

He said Malaria is a deadly disease that kills immediately when not treated. It takes 10 days to two weeks for the symptoms to develop.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, body pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

"Malaria is a deadly disease; it is transmitted by Anopheles, a special type of mosquito. It bites people and transmits the parasite to infect another person.

"By this I mean it transmits [blood between people]. Malaria parasite is a germ, it can infect a healthy person.

"The disease can spread itself for days after being infected, before the symptoms show."

Malaria suspected to claim two lives in Mpumalanga

Meanwhile, with 585 malaria cases reported in Mpumalanga, the provincial Department of Health has confirmed two deaths suspected to be from the disease.

Provincial Health MEC Gillion Mashego told The Legislature Monitor on Wednesday that two patients have died in the Tintswalo Hospital in Bushbuckridge in the past two weeks and are suspected to have been killed by Malaria.

"The deaths occurred at the Tintswalo Hospital which has registered the highest number of Malaria cases (36) between the month of April and May 2017 in the Bushbuckridge area.

"During the month of April and May 2017, a total of 585 malaria cases have been reported in the whole Mpumalanga province.

"This is higher than the reported number of cases reported last year in 2016 which stood at 499 during the same period," Mashego said.

Mashego said about 294 of the Malaria cases have been reported in the Bushbuckridge area.

"About 235 of those are local transmissions and only 59 are imported from neighbouring province such as Limpopo and neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe where Malaria is an endemic.

"The cases are spread all over the area of Bushbuckridge and more cases are coming from Acornhoek, Welverdiend, Marite, Dumfries and Seville.

"In the Thaba-Chweu Local Municipality, about 23 cases have been reported of which 20 are imported," Mashego said.

He said the Department of Health in Mpumalanga has activated Response Teams to assess the situation and conduct investigation in both sub-districts.

"More human resources have been deployed in the Bushbuckridge area to assist with the investigation and interventions to contain and control the situation.

"The interventions that have been conducted so far include spraying in the affected areas and health education to the communities."

The National Department of Health has also come to the party to ensure that there is enough medication and testing kits to be used to contain the disease, Mashego added.

The Department of Health in Mpumalanga has issued an advisory to members of the public that any person who experiences signs and symptoms related to Malaria to go to their nearest hospital.

"We would like to assure our people and those who are visiting the province that we have everything under control.

"Our Malaria teams are on the ground to contain the disease. All our health facilities are ready to deal with the Malaria outbreak. We encourage everyone to ensure that they test for the disease to ensure that they remain safe," Mashego said. - TLM

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