The Department of Health in Mpumalanga has called on the public to visit health facilities to test for malaria. Since December, close to 1 200 cases of malaria have been reported in the province.

Mpumalanga, in particular the Lowveld region, is a malaria risk area because the high rainfall and humidity provide favourable breeding conditions for the mosquitoes that carry the disease.

The high movement of people during the holidays in malaria endemic areas is said to be a contributing factor to the spread of the disease to non-malaria areas such as the Highveld region.

The Director for Communicable Diseases and TB in the Health Department, Mandla Zwane, says health facilities are ready to check people for malaria.

“If they stay at home for a long time with those signs and symptoms, they can get complications and then when they reach the hospital or the clinic only to find that already, some of their vital organs are affected. So, we are saying that people need to make sure they quickly go to the clinic for testing and treatment. Our health facilities are ready for any people that would come in terms of testing, in terms of the treatment. We have beefed up all of our facilities treatment so that everybody will be tested and get treatment as soon as possible.”

The department says most of the cases were reported in the Ehlanzeni District, with Bushbuckridge registering close to 600 cases since December.

Mbombela, Umjindi, Thaba Chweu and Nkomazi are some of the areas that have also registered cases.

Isolated cases have been reported in the Nkangala and Gert Sibande Districts.

Zwane has advised people to take note of the symptoms.

“All the people should look out for the signs and symptoms of malaria, more especially if the person is presented with flu-like symptoms. If I am talking about flu-like symptoms I am talking about a person who would have a complaint of fever and the person would feel chilly and then the person will be sweating; will have headache; some of the people will have nausea and vomiting and also they can have diarrhoea.”

Zwane says the department is involved in a number of programmes that include indoor residual spraying and outreach investigation teams to deal with the spread of malaria. Since April 2017, 80 people have died of malaria in the province.