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Increase in malaria cases in Botswana and Namibia
Düsseldorf, March 2017 - Due to heavy rainfall in the current rainy season, there has been an increase in malaria cases in parts of Botswana and Namibia. In addition to the known transmission areas, regions that were previously considered to be malaria-free are also affected. The CRM Center for Travel Medicine advises travelers heading to Botswana and Namibia to observe mosquito repellants and seek medical advice in good time: Depending on the travel destination, chemoprophylaxis or taking medication for self-therapy is advisable.
Since December last year, the north of Namibia has seen an increase in malaria cases. Around 6,000 infections and 15 deaths were reported in the known transmission areas, including 13 in the Kavango region alone. In Botswana and the South African province of Limpopo in the north-west, too, the heavy rainfall has led to an increase in the mosquito population and, as a result, to an increase in malaria cases. Traditional infection areas such as Okavango and Ngami in the North West District are particularly affected. But regions that are considered to be malaria-free are also affected: Since December last year, 27 infections and 2 deaths have been registered in the places Maunatlala and Lerala and the surrounding villages (Central District). At least 46 cases of malaria have been reported from Limpopo in the western Waterberg district around Lephalale and Thabazimbi - also areas that were previously free of malaria. “Limpopo's Health Department emphasizes that these are normal malaria season cases and are not an outbreak. However, the increase is remarkable, ”reports Professor Dr. med. Tomas Jelinek, Scientific Director of the CRM Center for Travel Medicine. "We advise tourists and business travelers who fly to Namibia, Botswana or Limpopo to seek medical advice at least two weeks before departure as to whether and to what extent malaria prophylaxis is appropriate."
"Very good protection against mosquito bites must always be observed when traveling to these regions - also against the background of existing resistance to anti-malarial drugs," emphasizes Professor Jelinek. These include applying repellants to the skin, wearing long clothes, and using mosquito nets. “Based on a risk assessment based on the planned travel route and the latest reports on the spread of malaria, the doctor in the travel medical consultation then decides whether chemoprophylaxis should also be taken and, if so, which one. He also checks whether it is advisable to take supplies for emergency self-treatment with you. "These drugs are only for the case that an unexplained fever occurs and no doctor is available," explains Jelinek.
According to the 2016 Malaria Report of the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of new malaria cases worldwide fell by 21 percent between 2010 and 2015 and the number of deaths from malaria fell by 29 percent. Numerous institutions such as the WHO, but also private initiatives, continue to work to contain the infectious disease. The success of this global fight against malaria is, however, endangered by climate change, political crises and resistance to the most important therapeutic agent, artemisinin. According to estimates by the WHO, around 212 million people worldwide fell ill in 2015 and 429,000 died. 90 percent of all malaria cases in 2015 occurred in Africa, the most severely affected part of the world.
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