Fortunately not the whole of Africa is affected by malaria, and most of South Africa is malaria free. The exceptions are northern parts of KwaZulu Natal and the Kruger Park area, and even then these are considered medium to low-risk areas. Still, it is wise to know the risks and to decide what sort of protection is needed for malaria prevention.
Most importantly, don’t let malaria stop you from enjoying your African bush adventure.
Not all areas are high risk, and there are a number of game reserves in South Africa that are malaria free.
Do a bit of research while planning your holiday. What time of year you are going, which areas you will be visiting as well as your duration will determine your risk levels.
These six basic steps for malaria prevention are often all you need for a safe African bush adventure:
- Visit your GP at least 4-6 weeks before your trip for advice and to check on your level of risk
- If prescribed, take antimalarial pills as instructed, continuing with prophylaxis for four weeks after you get back
- Wear long sleeve shirts and trousers especially in the evenings
- Use insect repellent for exposed skin, there are also sprays for clothing as well as soaps
- Use a bed net, preferably impregnated with insecticides
- Keep doors and windows closed unless they are appropriately screened
A children’s version of the antimalarial drug Malarone is available. The most important malaria prevention and precaution against being bitten by mosquitoes is to cover up and to apply insect repellent. Your kids should have the right gear for their safari. Long sleeved shirts and long trousers are essential for early morning and evening. A child-friendly high concentration DEET repellent is available on the market.
Symptoms of malaria include fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue as well as general tiredness. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. In some cases malaria may cause yellow coloring of the skin and eyes because of the breakdown of red blood cells. The first malaria symptom normally shows anywhere between 10 days to 4 weeks after infection, although in some extreme cases as early as 8 days and as long as 1 year after infection.
Malaria is completely curable when treated soon after infection. Malaria treatment includes prescription medication. The type of medication and duration of malaria treatment depend on the type of strain of malaria, the area where the patient was infected, the age of the patient and how soon the treatment was started.
- Children under 5
- Adults over 65
- Pregnant women
- People on long term steroids
- People receiving chemotherapy
- Aids patients
- People who had their spleens removed
- People with porphyria, epilepsy and chronically ill patients
If you notice any malaria symptom s (including flu-like symptoms) either during, or within four to six weeks after, your visit to a malaria area, seek medical advice immediately and advise them that you were in a malaria area. This is especially important after you arrive back home and then experience these symptoms.
Although malaria is a serious and very real threat, we would like to bring it under your attention that The Safari Co. staff travel extensively across Africa and have done so for many years, mostly in high risk malaria areas. We take strict antimalarial precautions while travelling in malaria areas and have been fortunate enough to never get malaria. The most important fact to remember is that prevention is better than cure. With adequate malaria prevention in place, a safari to Africa’s most beautiful ‘spots’ are easier than you think!
As part of malaria prevention to protect yourself, follow this easy advise: always use mosquito repellent (especially between dusk and dawn), wear light, long sleeved shirts, long pants and shoes and socks at night, and sleep under a mosquito net or in an insect-proof room.
Even with oral antimalarial prophylaxis, it is still possible to get malaria if bitten by an infected anopheles mosquito. The easiest and most effective malaria prevention and precaution against being bitten is by using a good insect repellent.
Adapted from article originally on African Safari Travel | Africa Safari Company – your Africa Travel Safaris Co.