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Malaria in South Africa

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

What is malaria?

Malaria is a disease spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms usually appear within 7 to 30 days but can take up to one year to develop. Symptoms include high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Without treatment, malaria can cause severe illness and even death.

Key Points

  • Cases of malaria have been reported in international travelers who visited the Waterberg district municipality of Limpopo Province. This is an area where malaria is not typically found.
  • Travelers to Waterberg, including resort areas, should take medicine to prevent malaria and take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Travelers to South Africa should also be aware of other areas of the country where malaria is typically found and take medicine to prevent malaria if traveling to any of those areas.

What is the current situation?

The United Kingdom (UK) has reported cases of malaria in UK residents who had returned from the Waterberg district municipality of Limpopo Province in South Africa. Waterberg had not previously been considered an area with malaria; however, local cases have been reported in the past.

Malaria is known to be a risk in other areas of Limpopo Province, including Vhembe and Mopani district municipalities. Other known malaria risk areas in South Africa include Ehlanzeni district municipality in Mpumalanga Province, Umknanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal Province, and Kruger National Park.

Public health authorities are responding to this outbreak by enhancing malaria surveillance, making sure that patients are diagnosed and treated promptly, and educating the community and health care workers on malaria.

What can travelers do to prevent malaria?

Travelers to Waterberg in Limpopo Province, including resort areas, should take medicine to prevent malaria. Talk with a doctor or nurse about medicine to prevent malaria before leaving the United States. Note: There are other areas in South Africa where CDC recommends travelers take medicine to prevent malaria. See malaria in South Africa for more information.

Travelers should also prevent mosquito bites(/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites) because malaria is spread by mosquitoes by

  • Using insect repellent when outside
  • Wearing long sleeves  and pants when outside
  • Sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room or under an insecticide-treated bed net

Learn more about malaria, how to prevent it, and what to do if you think you are infected at CDC’s malaria page for travelers(/travel/diseases/malaria).

Traveler Information

Clinician Information

See Malaria Cases in UK Travelers to South Africa for more information.