The Kruger National Park is a fantastic and superior safari and wild life destination and attraction that is located in a malaria prone region. However, your risk of contracting Malaria in the Kruger Park is very small and in this post I will explain why. But first what exactly is Malaria?
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease caused by the plasmodium parasite which is transmitted by infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria is only transmitted by the bites of Anopheles mosquitoes. These mosquitoes bite mostly at night. The plasmodium parasites can infect your red blood cells resulting in symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear between 7 to 20 days after infection. Malaria can easily be treated and it is vital that you obtain the necessary medical care if you develop such symptoms especially after a visit to a Malaria prone area. You must tell your doctor that you were in a malaria area in order to avoid incorrect diagnosis. Your doctor can then test for the presence of the malaria virus. Not only is malaria curable, it is also preventable. Most cases of malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa but infections also occur in Asia and Latin America. There is also some risk in the Middle East and parts of Europe.
Population risk groups
- young children who have not yet developed protective immunity against the most severe forms of the disease
- non-immune and semi-immune pregnant women since malaria can result in miscarriage and can lead to maternal death
- people with HIV/AIDS
- very old or frail people
- non-immune international travelers from non-endemic who do not take required precautions
Just as you would take precautions against other greater travel risks, you should take certain preventative measures when you visit a malaria region. There are several precautions you can take to prevent mosquito bites when in a malaria prone area. Being aware of the risks and preventing mosquito bites are important in preventing malaria infection.
- sleeping under insecticide treated mosquito nets
- indoor spraying with residual insecticides
- use of electric fans or air conditioning
- malaria prevention tablets (check with your GP or pharmacist)
- application of mosquito repellent on your skin especially around the ankles (available in sprays, roll-ons, sticks and creams)
- wear light trousers and long sleeve shirts in the early evening
- medical treatment in the event of symptoms
If you plan to travel to a risk area you should take precautions. No-one has complete immunity you often lose immunity when you move out of a risk area. Taking anti-malarial prophylactics is not compulsory but recommended. However you should first consult with your GP or pharmacist if you intend to take them.
Low Risk of Malaria in the Kruger National Park
Do not let a fear of Malaria prevent you from enjoying a fascinating and memorable Kruger Safari. The risk of contracting malaria in the Kruger is really low. The most vulnerable times are during the wet-warm summer months (December to April) but even then it is a very slight risk for the following reasons:
- Most types of mosquito do not carry the plasmodium virus and therefor cannot transmit malaria.
- Only mosquitoes of the anopheles genus can transmit the virus and then only if they have previously fed on an infected host.
- Due to precautions and effective vector control the number of infected hosts has dropped dramatically.
- Taking personal precautions as discussed in this article will also significantly reduce your risk.
- Your Kruger Park hosts also implements various precautions in order to protect you. These include spraying your accommodation and the provision of mosquito netting, air conditioning, electric fans and so on.
- Education and international cooperation has also helped to substantially reduce the risk of Malaria infection.
- Your own immune system
With proper and sensible precautions malaria does not pose a serious risk to Kruger Park visitors. However if you are pregnant or traveling with very young children you may want to avoid malaria prone areas especially in summer months. There are very few incidents of malaria among tourists due to the fact that the lodges take required precautions to protect their guests and most visitors are well educated and take personal precautions as well. Learn more about our Kruger Park Safari Packages and prices
Malaria free reserves for safari alternatives in South Africa
There are numerous game reserves in South Africa that are malaria free and where you can still experience a meaningful and adventurous wildlife safari. These include the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve (home of the BIG FIVE and not too far from Johannesburg) as well as the Madikwe Game Reserve, Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg region or any of the game reserves in the Eastern Cape, such as Addo Elephant Park. Learn more about our malaria free wildlife Safaris in the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve