MALARIA IN AFRICA by Dr Andrew Jamieson, Medical Director, SAA- Netcare Travel Clinics

Malaria is a dangerous parasitic disease that occurs when an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a person and injects malaria parasites into the blood. Four species of malaria parasites can infect humans and cause illness; the most dangerous is P. falciparum malaria; it is life?threatening. Most of the malaria found in Africa is of the falciparum species. Symptoms may develop as soon as seven days after arrival in a malarious area, or as long as three months after leaving a malarious area: they are often beguilingly mild in the initial stages, resembling influenza.

Symptoms of malaria may be:
· a generalised body ache, tiredness, headache, sore throat, diarrhoea, fever...

Remember that these symptoms may not be dramatic, and can easily be mistaken for an attack of influenza or similar non?life threatening illness. Even old Africa hands who have had malaria before, often misinterpret new cases of malaria. Deterioration can be sudden and dramatic, with rapid multiplication of parasites in the victim's blood stream. Complications of a serious nature, such as involvement of the kidneys or brain (cerebral malaria) may then follow. Cerebral malaria is extremely serious, with the victim becoming delirious and entering a coma. Cerebral malaria is frequently fatal, and it is extremely important that all suspected cases of malaria should receive medical attention as soon as is possible. Malaria is not a disease to be taken lightly, being one of the biggest killers in history. More human beings have died of malaria than any other infection. Every twenty seconds sees another death from malaria in Africa.

The full article (4 pages) is available to download as a Microsoft® Word File and a Adobe Acrobat® PDF File. Please right click on one of the links below, select "save file as..." or something similair to save the file to your hard drive for later viewing or printing.

Malaria in Africa by Dr Andrew Jamieson (Full Article - 4 pages) | PDF File | 286KB
Malaria in Africa by Dr Andrew Jamieson (Full Article - 4 pages) | MS Word File | 303KB



Malaria Risk Assesment


Very Low. Isolated cases in central region. No malaria prophylaxis required; prevent mosquito bites.

Bazaruto Archipelago

The whole of Mozambique is a High Risk area. Malaria prophylaxis required.

Lake Malawi

The whole of Malawi is a High Risk area. Malaria prophylaxis required.

Zanzibar Archipelago

The whole of Tanzania & Zanzibar is a High Risk area. Malaria prophylaxis required.


Effectively nil.


Effectively nil.





- In South Africa only Kruger National Park & Northern KwaZulu-Natal are considered High Risk areas. The rest of southern and
..central Africa are to be considered High Risk Areas at all times. Please bear this in mind if you are combining destinations.
- To view each destination in more detail please click on any of the Island Destination names above.
- last update: 20 November 2004


Immunisation is an important component of pre-travel preparation for all visitors to East Africa. Appropriate immunisation, as calculated using the real risk of travelling, is especially important. SAA Netcare Travel Clinics provide a full range of vaccines, and all SAA Netcare Travel Clinics are registered Yellow Fever immunisation centres.

Appropriate travel vaccines include -
Polio: This vaccine is given orally and is a simple and safe protection against poliomyelitis which is still prevalent in some tropical and developing countries. Many adults have lost their protection against polio from childhood immunisation.

Tetanus: All travellers should be in date for tetanus immunisation as the disease is spread throughout the world and is potentially a hazard to life.

Typhoid: Typhoid is a disease contracted from contaminated food and water which leads to high fever and septicaemia. Immunisation is usually advised for those going to areas where the standards of food and water hygiene are lower than South Africa.

Hepatitis A: Short term protection against this water-borne viral disease is offered by an effective vaccine, which provides protection for ten years.

Yellow Fever: Travellers immunized against yellow fever are issued with an internationally recognized vaccination certificate, for inspection by immigration officials. Unvaccinated travellers to affected areas may face denial of entry, or even quarantine. This strict control is maintained because yellow fever vaccination serves two purposes, protecting both the individual traveller and the broader community. Travellers to yellow fever areas should be vaccinated for their own personal protection. Travellers from yellow fever areas should have been vaccinated to prevent the spread of the infection into the community at large.

Cholera: Cholera is an uncommon disease in travellers. Not routinely recommended, immunisation does not absolve the traveller from following the recommended food and water hygiene practices.

Rabies: Pre-immunisation against rabies should be considered by travellers who are at particular risk. The immunisation can be life saving, but any traveller who is bitten or licked by a potentially rabid animal must seek medical advice, as the vaccine will then definitely require boosting.

TB: Unimmunised children going to endemic areas for prolonged periods of time should consider immunisation.

Hepatitis B: Contaminated or unsterile medical equipment is a common source of infection amongst travellers, usually in lesser developed countries where disposable medical equipment may be reused. It may also be sexually transmitted, and this represents another area of risk to travellers. In general, hepatitis B is acquired in much the same way as the human immunodeficiency virus. Victims may suffer ongoing liver damage, leading to liver cirrhosis (hardening) or, in a percentage of cases, cancer. An effective vaccine is available against hepatitis B.

Influenza: Flu in the tropics can be a real problem; it is a year round problem. In the presence of an epidemic immunisation is a good idea.



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