Let Us Control Mosquito Menace
Malaria is a common, yet life-threatening disease spread by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Once bitten, the parasite multiplies in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells
November is Malaria Awareness month and Mopani Pharmacy is focusing on the symptoms, prevention and treatment of Malaria.
Signs and Symptoms of Malaria
After transmission, signs of Malaria may start occurring within a few weeks but could take up to years. Symptoms of malaria include one or more of the following:
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cough and sore throat
If you have travelled to a Malaria zone in as recent as a year, the occurrence of these symptoms should be taken seriously and medical help is needed to rule out the possibility of Malaria.
Diagnosis of Malaria
Early diagnosis is critical in a patient’s recovery. The infection should be confirmed by a rapid diagnostic test (available in Mopani) or through microscopic laboratory testing.
Prevention of Malaria
The first method of prevention is simply the awareness and knowledge of the risk that Malaria poses. Realising which areas are affected is crucial.
Precaution should be taken to avoid being bitten by a mosquito, especially when visiting affected regions. Preventative measures that can be taken include:
- Obtaining antimalarial drugs before leaving home
- Considering the risk for individual travellers including children, older people, pregnant women, and the existing medical conditions of any travellers
- Being aware of Malaria symptoms
- Remaining indoors between dusk and dawn wherever possible
- Wearing long sleeved shirts, trousers and socks at night
- Applying an insect repellent to exposed skin
- Switching the air conditioner or fans on in the house at night
- Spraying the bedroom with insecticide
There are two different types of prophylactic medication in South Africa.
Both options are available without a prescription. If you wish to find out more, please come and discuss it with one of our pharmacists and they will be happy to assist.
For a year after returning home, the traveller may be susceptible to symptoms of malaria. Donating blood may also not be possible for some time.
If you are unfortunate enough to contract Malaria, it needs to be treated as a medical emergency. The sooner a diagnosis is made and treatment commences, the better your chances of survival. The types of medicine available include quinine, chloroquine and artesunate. Although these medications are very successful in ensuring a positive prognosis, prevention will remain better than cure!