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Malaria: the only travel bug you shouldn’t catch this festive season

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The festive season is upon us and as we do, many South Africans will be traveling through this beautiful region of ours. From sunny turquoise beaches to the breath-taking Drakensberg mountain range, Southern Africa has many picturesque destinations where you can recharge your soul this holiday.

However, with the rise in malaria cases in South Africa over the last few months, it is important for travellers to take precautions.

“The prevalence of malaria has ordinarily been very low in South Africa. As such, most South Africans believe that the disease isn’t something that would affect them. Little do they know that malaria still presents a significant danger, especially when travelling to endemic areas,” says Sherwin Charles, Co-Founder, and CEO of Goodbye Malaria.

Despite advancements in treatment, malaria remains a killer, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016 alone, malaria caused the deaths of 445 000 people worldwide, with 80% of these deaths accounted for in fifteen countries, all of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, save India.

Common symptoms of malaria include constant headaches, fatigue, nausea, muscle pains and sudden shifts between chills and fevers. “What makes malaria so dangerous is that it is often misdiagnosed as the flu, as they share many common symptoms. People will then just dismiss their symptoms as the easily treated flu and won’t seek medical attention. However, if left untreated, malaria could have severe repercussions for your health - even life-threatening. It is imperative that if you start to experience any of these symptoms you must immediately seek professional medical advice” says Charles.

Goodbye Malaria provides the following tips and information that will allow you to protect yourself and your family from malaria this festive season:

Since malaria symptoms usually only appear up to 15 days after infection, effective treatment at this stage does become difficult. If you are travelling this festive season, the safest option is to use prophylaxis.

Consult with your health care professional who will prescribe the most appropriate anti-malarial courses based on your medical history, and the specifics of your travel itinerary.

Ensure you take the medication before, during and after your travels as to completely safeguard yourself from infection.

It’s a good idea to do some research on your holiday destination and ascertain whether there have been recent cases of malaria infections. If malaria is prevalent at your destination be especially vigilant taking extra precautions such as mosquito nets, mosquito repellent and protective clothing.

“Malaria is totally preventable and treatable, but we all need to do our part to ensure that we are looking out for our health and well-being. Being aware and understanding your environment and any potential symptoms goes a long way to ensuring your well-being. Let’s say Goodbye malaria, by starting with prevention.” concludes Charles.

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