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Info on Malaria in South Africa's Kruger National Park.
Malaria is a word many people associate with game parks in Africa.
However only one of the South African National Parks is in a malaria
risk area and that is the Kruger National Park, although even here the
risk is usually low. Historically there have been incidences of
malaria in other parks, but then there are recorded incidences of
malaria from urban Europe and other non-risk areas. But to all intents
and purposes Kruger is the only malaria risk park in South Africa's
National Park set-up.
The threat of malaria should not affect your decision to enjoy and
experience the Kruger Park, but is just something one should be aware
of and take precautions to be exposed to.
Anti-malaria prophylactics are thus recommended for visitors for
Kruger. The highest risk period is between December and April (end of
the rainy season). A 24-hour malaria hotline is available on +27 (0)
82 234 1800 to give detailed explanation on risk and advice on
precautionary measures. Visitors wishing to take prophylactics should
consult a knowledgeable medical practitioner or recognized travel
clinic about recommended medication, as certain products cause nausea,
hallucinations or other negative side effects with certain people.
Very often (particularly after periods of low rainfall) the malaria
risk in Kruger is very low. Many people decide not to take
prophylactics and rather try to avoid getting bitten. The most
vulnerable times are between dusk and dawn. People are advised to stay
indoors during these periods, or cover exposed skin with light
clothing or insect repellents. The ankles are the most critical area.
Burning anti-mosquito coils and ensuring netted screens are kept
closed are other preventative measures.
While malaria prophylactics are recommended, no prophylactic is
foolproof and any person developing flu-like symptoms 7 to 20 days (or
even longer) after being in malaria areas should be tested immediately
for malaria, until the symptoms clear or an alternative diagnosis is
made. It is important to advise medical practitioners that you have
been in a malaria area to avoid incorrect diagnosis.
On the question of prophylactics, no drug is guaranteed 100%
effective, but a combination of choroquin (taken weekly first one week
before) and paludrin (daily - first 2 days before) appears to be the
most recommended prophylactic. Mefloquin is a single alternative.
These would be available from pharmacies in Johannesburg and en route
to the park (and perhaps for sale at some of the larger rest camps in
the park). However as they should be taken a week in advance, if one
chooses to use them, buying them in SA would be leaving it late,
unless you will be spending time elsewhere in the country (most of
which is malaria free).
NB: Most types of mosquito do not carry the malaria plasmodium and if
one is bitten it does not mean one will contract malaria. Only
mosquitoes of the anopheles genus carry the plasmodium, and then only
if they have previously fed on an infected host. As the presence of
people with the plasmodium in their bloodstream in the park is greatly
reduced compared to past times, risk is once more reduced. One reason
for these reductions is that the accommodation units in the parks are
sprayed periodically throughout the year. Now that international
campaigns see treatment taking place in adjacent countries such as
Mozambique and Swaziland, malaria occurrence has been further reduced.
Hope this helps...
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