Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The malaria season has hit Limpopo and several people have died in the Mopani district since last month.

More than 800 cases of malaria have been reported in the province, and also in the Mpumalanga lowveld, this year.

The Limpopo health department says malaria has killed at least four people so far this year. Spokesman Phuti Seloba says the department's records come from hospitals throughout the province.

The department is conducting awareness campaigns and spraying houses and fields in communities hard hit by the disease, he says.

A group of health professionals has been sent to Giyani, where the Nkensani Hospital has treated many cases of malaria this year.

"We urge our communities to consult the nearest health institutions for treatment as soon as they feel malaria symptoms," Seloba says.

Malaria is caused by plasmodium, a tiny parasite transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. The parasites multiply in the human liver and infect red blood cells.

Symptoms such as fever, headaches and vomiting usually appear 10 to 15 days after the mosquito bite.

The parasites have developed resistance to older malaria medicines but local health authorities have developed effective programmes that have helped fight the disease that still kills millions, especially young children, in sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Prompt and effective treatment have turned the tide of the disease in South Africa.