Malaria is a disease caused by a mosquitoes . The parasite is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Persons with generally feel very sick, with a high fever and shaking chills. Around 220 million people are infected with malaria each year, and around 450,000 die from the disease. The majority of the people who die from the disease are young children in Africa. In this blog we will discuss about the symptoms and cause of the Malaria and its prevention tips in detail.
If you’re travelling to places where malaria is common, take steps to avoid mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing like shoes, jackets, socks and gloves, using insect repellants and sleeping under treated mosquito nets. Depending on the area you are visiting and your specific risk factors for infection, you may also want to take preventive medicine before, during and after your trip. There are now many malaria parasites that are now resistant to the most common drugs used to treat the disease.
Symptoms of Malaria
Infection with malaria is usually characterized by the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain and tiredness
- Chest or abdominal pain
When to see a doctor
If you feel a fever while living in or after a trip to a high-risk malaria area, discuss with your doctor. The parasites that cause malaria can lie dormant in your body for up to a year. If you are having serious symptoms, seek emergency medical treatment.
Causes of Malaria
Malaria is caused by a type of microscopic parasite. The parasite is transmitted to humans most frequently by mosquito bites.
Mosquito transmission cycle
- Uninfected mosquito: A mosquito gets infected by feeding on a person who has malaria.
- Transmission of the parasite: If this mosquito bites you in the future, it will spread malaria parasites to you.
- In the liver: They migrate to your liver once the parasites reach your body— where certain forms will lie dormant for as long as a year.
- Into the bloodstream: When the parasites mature, they leave the liver and infect your red blood cells. This is when people typically develop malaria symptoms.
- On to the next person: If an uninfected mosquito bites you at this point in the cycle, it will become infected with your malaria parasites and will spread them to the other people it has bitten.
Other modes of transmission
Because of the parasites that cause malaria damage red blood cells, people can also catch malaria through exposure to infected blood, including:
- Through mother to the unborn child
- From blood transfusions
- Sharing needles used to inject medicines
Risk factors of Malaria
Living or visiting areas where the disease is endemic is the main risk factor for developing malaria. There are many different varieties of malaria parasites.
Risks of more-severe disease
People at elevated risk of severe disease include:
- Young children and babies
- Older adults
- Travelers coming from non-malaria areas
- Pregnant women and their unborn children
Poverty, lack of education, and little or no access to health care often lead to deaths from malaria worldwide.
Malaria can be fatal, especially due to the variety of parasite that is widespread in tropical parts of Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 90% of all deaths from malaria occur in Africa — most often in children under 5 years of age.
Malaria deaths are in most cases associated with one or more severe complications, including:
- Cerebral malaria: If parasite-filled blood cells block tiny blood vessels to your brain (cerebral malaria), you can experience swelling of the brain or brain damage. Cerebral malaria can cause seizures and coma.
- Difficulties in Breathing: Accumulated fluid (pulmonary edema) in your lungs will make breathing difficult.
- Failed heart: Malaria can cause rupture your kidneys or liver, or your spleen. Any of these conditions may be life-threatening.
- Anemia: Malaria affects the red blood cells, and this can lead to anaemia
- Low blood sugar: Serious forms of malaria itself can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), as can quinine — one of the most popular medications used to combat malaria. Very low blood sugar can cause coma or death.
Malaria can recur
Some malaria parasite types, which usually cause milder forms of the disease, can persist for years and cause relapses.
Prevention of Malaria
If you live in or are travelling to an area where malaria is common, take steps to prevent mosquito bites. The most active mosquitoes are between dusk and dawn. To defend yourself from mosquito bites, you should:
- Cover your skin. Wear long-sleeved shirts/tops and trousers.
- Insect repellant should be applied to skin and clothing. DEET containing Sprays may be used on skin and permethrin containing sprays are suitable for clothing.
- Sleep under a net. Bed nets, particularly those treated with insecticide, help prevent bites from a mosquito while you’re sleeping.
If you are going to a place where malaria is common, ask your doctor a few months in advance about whether you can take medicines before, during and after your trip to help protect you against malaria parasites.
In general, the drugs taken to prevent malaria are the same drugs used to treat the disease. Your doctor needs to know when and where you’ll be travelling so that he or she can help you evaluate your risk for infection and, if necessary, prescribe the drug that will work best on the type of malaria parasite most commonly found in that region.
No vaccine yet
Scientists around the world are trying to develop a safe and effective vaccine for malaria. As of yet, however, there is still no malaria vaccine approved for human use.
Treatment of Malaria
Malaria is treated with prescription drugs to kill the parasite. The types of drugs and the length of treatment will vary, depending on:
- What type of malaria parasite you have
- The severity of your symptoms
- Your age
- If you are pregnant