Malaria in the Congo

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The risk of malaria used to be quite low in the Democratic Republic of Congo until a few years ago. Since 2009, the number of malaria cases has increased by 250% with 158,000 people being treated for the disease in 2011. This increase has occurred in six provinces across the country and it has now become the leading cause of death in the Congo.

It is believed that the increase of violence in the country has led to this increase in malaria.  The violence was such that people would have to leave their homes in the night to protect themselves and would often leave their mosquito nets at home. Also, people started to sleep outside so that they could make a quick escape if they thought they were in danger. The lack of use of the mosquito nets has led to an increase in transmission and now malaria is a much bigger problem in this country.

The parasite that is most prominent in the Congo is Plasmodium falciparum and like most African countries, it is resistant to the malaria drug Chloroquine. Therefore, this malaria tablet will not protect you from malaria. Your doctor will most likely prescribe Mefloquine, Malarone or Doxycycline for any area you are visiting and it is important that you finish the entire course of malaria tablets, even when your home because if you were infected by the parasite, it will still be in your system when you return home so stopping the malaria tablets early will give it a chance to cause infection.

It is imperative that you use insect protection measures such as mosquito nets and residual spraying. Stay in an air-conditioned room if possible and keep the windows and doors shut at all times. Make sure that you use the mosquito net if this is not possible and use insect repellent when you go out. Also cover up as much skin as possible in long sleeved clothing from dusk onwards.

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