Everyone is on the lookout for signs of the Cornavirus. Every cough, headache and rash could be a frightening symptom.

While we are right to be vigilant, some other illnesses are being overlooked.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Disease, a man diagnosed with COVID-19 died a few days later of malaria. 

While he received medical attention in time, the focus on COVID-19 symptoms stopped medical professionals from identifying his malaria infection. 

Malaria can be prevented. 

No Buzz co-creator, Dr Sthembile Sibanda says it is important to take preventative measures, especially in malaria hotspots. 

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WARNING: Covid-19 & malaria symptoms are similar


What is malaria? 

Malaria is a possibly life-threatening disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are infected by the malaria parasite which is then transmitted to people through mosquito bites. 

Symptoms like chills, high fever and flu-like symptoms can be early signs of malaria. If you have symptoms of malaria, and have been in a high risk area, you need to seek urgent medical attention.

According to the South African National Travel Health Network (SaNTHNet), “The areas of transmission of malaria in South Africa are the north -eastern parts of Limpopo (along the borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe), the lowveld areas of Mpumalanga (including the Kruger National Park but excluding Mbombela and immediate surrounds) and the far northern parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal.”

“While the Kruger National Park does fall in the malaria risk area, the transmission risk would be considered low to moderate, depending on the specific camps visited for overnight stays.”

READ MORE: Malaria breakthrough: Microbe that blocks transmission discovered

How do you prevent malaria? 

According to Dr Sithembele, reducing your risk of contracting malaria can be as easy as preventing mosquito bites with an effective repellent. 

“Insect repellents greatly reduce the chance of contracting malaria and are adequate in most cases if correctly used, ” she says. 

While most people know to use mosquito repellents to prevent mosquito bites, not everyone has the patience to reapply regularly creating a gap for mosquitoes to attack. 

“The biggest drawback of topical repellents that are commercially available is that they do not last long. Our flagship products are textile-based (socks and ankle bands). These products are infused with a safe and natural insect repellent (Citridiol®) that is effective for up to 8 months or 25 washes providing adequate protection to lower limbs from ticks, fleas and mosquitoes,” says Dr Sibanda.

Should you be worried about every mosquito bite? 

Waking up to itchy bumps all over your body can be especially alarming in a malaria zone or malaria-endemic regions, but not every mosquito bite will cause malaria. However, it is important to track your health care and watch out for symptoms. 

“It is important to worry about potentially infectious mosquito bites particularly when you are in the malaria-endemic area, ” says, Dr Sibanda.

READ MORE: 9 Ways to protect yourself against malaria

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.