A Comprehensive Kruger National Park Malaria Guide
We get asked very often about malaria and whether it is a good idea to take medication while on a Kruger safari. We decided to put together a comprehensive write up on Malaria to assist you guys.
Enjoy it and post any comments that you have. I will do my best to answer you guys.
In this post we will look at:
- A map of the malaria hotspots in and around Kruger Park
- What is malaria
- What are the symptoms of malaria
- Preventative measures you can follow
- Is there a vaccine available
- Interesting info on mosquitoes (they actually are pretty fascinating creatures)
- Join us on a Kruger safari and we can chat about this around the fire one night
What is malaria:
It is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and if not treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later. In those who have recently survived an infection, re-infection typically causes milder symptoms. This partial resistance disappears over months to years if the person has no continuing exposure to malaria.
The disease is transmitted most commonly by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The parasites travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce. Five species of Plasmodium can infect and be spread by humans. Most deaths are caused by P. falciparum or commonly referred to as cerebral malaria. Yet, this is found in mosquitoes that live in tropical climates.
Symptoms of malaria:
The signs and symptoms of malaria typically begin 8–25 days following infection. However, symptoms may occur later in those who have taken antimalarial medications as prevention. Initial flu-like symptoms are most common and can include:
- Fever and shivering
- Joint pain
- Blood in your urine
Cerebral malaria symptoms arise 9–30 days after infection and include:
- Involuntary eye movements
- Muscle spasms
Malaria is curable and, if caught in time you can make a full recovery. However, pregnant woman, older people and children under two years of age are at risk.
I always tell our guests – if you get sick in the next month, please go to your GP and tell them you were in a malaria area.
A vaccine against malaria called RTS, S, was approved by European regulators in 2015. It is undergoing pilot trials in select countries in 2016.
Interesting malaria info:
Anopheles is a genus of mosquito first described and named by J. W. Meigen in 1818. There are about 460 species recognised. Over 100 can transmit human malaria and only 30–40 transmit parasites of the genus Plasmodium.
Adults can be identified by their typical resting position. Males and females rest with their abdomens sticking up in the air rather than parallel to the surface on which they are resting. Adult mosquitoes usually mate within a few days after emerging from the pupal stage. In most species, the males form large swarms, usually around dusk, and the females fly into the swarms to mate. Males live for about a week, feeding on nectar and other sources of sugar.
Females will also feed on sugar sources for energy, but usually require a blood meal for the development of eggs. After obtaining a full blood meal, the female will rest for a few days while the blood is digested, and eggs are developed. This process depends on the temperature, but usually takes 2–3 days in tropical conditions. Once the eggs are fully developed, the female lays them and resumes host-seeking. The cycle repeats itself until the female dies. While females can live longer than a month in captivity, most do not live longer than one to two weeks in nature. Their lifespans depend on temperature, humidity, and their ability to successfully obtain a blood meal.