Fight the bite to avoid Malaria

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

South Australians are urged to ‘fight the bite’ as latest statistics show Malaria cases notified locally jumped 450 per cent from 2015 to 2016.

SA Health’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said while there were still a relatively low number of cases, the increase is a serious reminder to people to take precautions from mosquitoes especially when travelling overseas.

“In 2016, 11 cases were reported of this serious and potentially life-threatening disease, compared to two cases in 2015,” Professor Phillips said.

“As a comparison, those 11 cases account for nearly half the total number of Malaria reports we have received from 2012 to date.

“Thankfully, reported case numbers are historically low in our state and while Malaria cannot be contracted in South Australia, people need to be aware of the disease.”

Professor Phillips said World Malaria Day (25 April) is a reminder for people who are travelling to countries where malaria is present to see their GP or a travel doctor expert to get specific health advice for the places they will be visiting.

“Malaria occurs in most tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world, such as Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Papua New Guinea and the western Pacific islands,” Professor Phillips said.

“Tourists experience a severe reaction to the illness because they have had no previous exposure to malaria and have no resistance to the disease.

“The best protection is to prevent mosquito bites by wearing long and loose fitted clothing, using repellent and using nets over sleeping areas. It’s also important to take malaria prophylaxis drugs exactly as prescribed.”

Professor Phillips said areas where malaria-carrying mosquitoes are prevalent are also danger spots for other mosquito-borne infections such as Dengue Fever.

“No preventive measures are 100 per cent effective, so always seek medical attention immediately if you develop a fever while travelling in, or after returning from, a country where malaria occurs,” Professor Phillips said.

“People who have contracted Malaria may experience fever, chills, excessive sweating, muscle and joint pain, headache, confusion, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and a general feeling of being unwell.”

Malaria cases reported in South Australia

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Year to date 2 2 3 0 5 2
Total 8 8 6 2 11 2


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