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Protect yourself against malaria if you are travelling this long weekend

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It’s the final long weekend South Africans will see in a while, and after the hustle and bustle of the last quarter, this will be a welcome respite from the everyday routine. With the strong possibility that many have elected to take leave and enjoy a five-day weekend, the probability is high that many South Africans will be travelling.

However, with the recent heavy rainfall we have experienced across South Africa, and an increase in cross-border road trips during shorter vacation times, it is imperative that travellers take precautions against malaria.

“Over the last few years, South Africa has experienced a relatively low prevalence of malaria. However, the recent rainfall has created optimal conditions for malaria mosquitoes to breed. We urge all South Africans travelling into high risk malaria areas such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, northern Kwa-Zulu Natal and across the border into Mozambique to take the necessary preventative measures,” says Sherwin Charles, CEO and co-Founder of Goodbye Malaria.

If you are travelling into an endemic or high risk area, here are a few handy tips from Goodbye Malaria that will help you protect yourself and your family from malaria:

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

-    Consult your health care professional: Based on the specifics of your travel itinerary and your medical history, your doctor will prescribe the most appropriate course of anti-malarial medication.

-    Take your doses correctly: Ensure that you take your malaria medication before, during and after your travels, or as specified by your health care professional. This is to completely safeguard yourself from infection.

-    Research your holiday destination: It’s a good idea to do some research on where you will be spending your vacation. This helps to ascertain whether there has been recent cases of malaria infections or whether the area is endemic. If malaria is prevalent at your holiday destination, ensure that you are especially vigilant, taking extra precautions such as mosquito nets, mosquito repellent and protective clothing. For more information on high risk areas, read here.

-    Be vigilant after your travels: It is important to note that malaria and the flu share common symptoms. If you have travelled to an endemic area and experience flu-like symptoms after your travels, consult with your doctor immediately.

“It is important to remember that malaria is totally preventable and treatable. We urge all South Africans to look out for their health and well-being by taking these preventative measures, so that they can enjoy this well-deserved break with their families and loved ones.” concludes Charles.

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