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South African health authorities on Thursday, April 19, 2018 issued a malaria alert amid a rising risk of acquiring the disease both in and outside the country.

Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the total number of malaria cases has increased in three malaria-affected areas – north-eastern Limpopo, eastern Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal.

NICD said some of the patients are likely to be travellers returning from neighbouring countries, particularly Mozambique.

The institute did not give the specific number of malaria cases.

The NICD said with the recent Easter holidays and an upcoming weekend, a substantial proportion of the South African population have returned or will shortly return from malaria-endemic destinations.

The institute said anyone who has been in a malaria risk area in the past 10 days to three weeks and who gets ill with flu-like symptoms should remember that malaria is a possibility and seek medical attention, which should include a malaria blood test, repeated if necessary.

Travellers should tell healthcare workers about travel and possible exposure, as they may forget to ask, the institute said.

Using anti-mosquito measures (nets, repellents etc.) and/or prophylactic medicines does not guarantee perfect protection from malaria, the institute cautioned.

The institute warned that delayed diagnosis of malaria often leads to more severe illness with the danger of serious complications or even death.

Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, sweating, body pains, headache and extreme tiredness, which appear within 10 to 15 days after the ineffective mosquito bite.

This was the second malaria alert issued in South Africa since Dec. 14, 2017.

South Africa has pledged to eliminate malaria by 2018.

Malaria in the country is seasonal, with transmission occurring between September and May in geographical areas of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces.

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