Rains cause of malaria outbreak

Heavy rains and continuous human movement from areas with malaria to those without have resulted in an outbreak of the seasonal disease in some parts of Mpumalanga.

Heavy rains and continuous human movement from areas with malaria to those without have resulted in an outbreak of the seasonal disease in some parts of Mpumalanga.

But, provincial health department spokesperson Mpho Gabashane told Sowetan that cases of malaria were "normalising" after reaching a worrying peak in December last year.

Campaigns

Since December five people have died from malaria and the number of reported cases rose to 188 in the same period.

"At the height of the outbreak, we used to see 71 patients per week, but now we are seeing around 23 a week," Gabashane said.

He attributed the decreasing number of malaria cases to health facilities in the province and the numerous awareness campaigns that were aimed at members of the community.

He also said government officials had been conducting door-to-door visits and had published warnings in the local media.

Top on the department's agenda is to reduce opportunities for further infections by preventing carriers such as mosquitoes. But that could prove difficult because of expected high rains.

A 2008 research study conducted by the National Institute of Health revealed that 95 percent of 4000 cases of malaria between September and April in the province were caused by a parasite called Plasmodium falciparum, which is carried by the female Anopheles mosquito.

Also revealed in the study was the high mortality rate experienced by the province as a result of malaria outbreaks and epidemics.

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