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Facts and Fears about Malaria

29 Jun 2023 | By Author Thornybush | FAQs & News

Travelling on safari comes with a lot of preparation and a few questions, especially for first-time safari goers.  One of the more serious ones is that about malaria. It is widely known that malaria is one of the most serious and common tropical diseases in the world. However, there is no reason why this disease should deter you from experiencing your bucket list safari.  By understanding the facts, and taking the necessary precautions, we at Thornybush are here to help you plan a safe and rewarding safari trip of a lifetime.

Thornybush is in a malaria-risk area

Although we are situated in a low-risk malaria area, this does not rule out that it does exist here. We will always encourage our guests to take precautions that they feel most comfortable with, and as a lodge group, we do our best to keep you as safe as possible. If you are looking for months where malaria is at its lowest risk, travelling between May and September over the dry winter months is suggested. However, during the wetter months, October to April, we offer precautions such as unlimited insect repellent, and mosquito netting at night and recommend that our guests wear clothing that covers them up, especially in the evenings.

Myths about Malaria 

We’re not going to beat around the bush, Malaria is a serious disease and must always be taken with precaution. However, there are some myths out there we’d like to get straight:

Once you get malaria, it will stay in your body for years:

Nowadays, there are various effective medications for the treatment of all species of malaria. All malaria can be cured. Although some species of malaria namely P. ovalae and P. vivax could stay in your liver for a long time, most medications eradicate them for good. 

Drinking water from the tap can give you malaria: 

You can only get malaria when you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Malaria is not transmitted via water or food.

All mosquitos carry malaria: 

The disease is only transmitted through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes.  Five species of parasites can cause malaria in humans and 2 of these species – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – pose the greatest threat. There are over 400 different species of Anopheles mosquitoes and around 40, known as vector species, can transmit the disease.

Malaria is contagious: 

Malaria is not contagious and cannot spread from one person to another; the disease is transmitted only through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes.

Once you develop a fever from malaria, you will die within a day:

It is extremely rare that someone will die from malaria within one day once symptoms develop. Generally, fatal cases of malaria result from unawareness and a delay in diagnosis and treatment of malaria. Most fatal cases are when patients do not seek treatment after having a fever for four or more days.  Malaria is not difficult to treat if you detect the signs early on and inform your doctor that you’ve been in a malaria area.

Eating Garlic, Vitamin B, and Chilli can prevent malaria:

These are all old wives’ tales and should definitely not be used as prevention against malaria!

Preventing Malaria 

It is most important to note that no preventative measures are foolproof and 100% safe. Should flu-like symptoms and signs of malaria such as body pain, headache and fever develop 7 to 20 days or longer after visiting a malaria area, daily testing for malaria should be performed until you are better or another definite diagnosis is made.

The most important and most effective way of minimizing the risks of malaria is to prevent mosquito bites. 

The following preventative measures can be taken at our lodges:
  • Cover your arms and legs towards evenings with light-coloured clothing to cover exposed skin areas and especially the ankles. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, socks and closed shoes.
  • Apply insect repellents to exposed skin areas every 4-6 hours.
  • Our rooms are equipped with electrically heated insecticide tablets in the suites at night.
  • Keep your suite windows and doors closed.
  • Ask your doctor about additional preventative drugs, especially in the warm and rainy months from October to May.


Is the Kruger Park Malaria Free?

The Kruger is considered to be a risk malaria area

Is there Malaria in the Kruger National Park?

Yes, malaria is a risk in the Kruger. Seasonally, during the summer months there may be mosquitoes that may possibly be infected with malaria 

What prevention can I take against malaria in the Kruger?

Consult your doctor and inform them that you will be going to a risk malaria area. Pack clothes that cover exposed skin and use insect repellent to minimise the risk of infection.

Should you suspect that you have been infected with malaria at any of our lodges?

Our Thornybush Operations team have established Medical Protocol processes and measures to assist everyone in case of a suspected malaria case. 

These are the steps that are followed based on indicative malaria symptoms:
  • You immediately inform the Front of House of your malaria symptoms 
  • Our teams have direct contact with the local medical emergency service
  • The medical emergency service will be dispatched onsite to assess the situation
  • The paramedic will advise whether further medical attention is required
  • Based on the assessment, you will be transported to the nearest available doctor to seek further evaluation 
  • If the situation is critical an ambulance will be called for emergency medical care 

Travel Tips

  1. Never travel without letting your Medical Insurance company know where you are going and for how long
  2. Take out comprehensive Travel Insurance from a reputable company to ensure further coverage in case of any emergency
  3. Always consult your doctor or a Malaria Disease specialist to seek advice and/or medication
  4. Ask your travel agent or reservationist about preventative measures in place at the safari lodge and how to better prepare for your safari packing 
  5. Don’t let paranoia get the best of you! 

Disclaimer: Thornybush does not claim to be Malaria Disease experts, or medical professionals. This blog was created with the sole purpose of sharing information that exists. Our sole purpose is to inform and minimise the risk of Malaria Disease infection in a malaria-risk environment and to protect our guests from potential harm.

Keep travelling 

We understand that discussions like this can create a lot of unnecessary panic, especially when you’re planning your once-in-a-lifetime bucket list safari. But we are here to tell you that as long as you understand the risks, and take the right precautions that you are comfortable with, we’ll do our part to make your safari a truly unforgettable one.

For more information regarding malaria please check out this article.