Malaria Disease: Malaria is caused by parasites that enter your body through the bite of an infected mosquito. This sometimes fatal disease is found in hot, humid regions of the world, such as Africa, Malaria is a serious disease that spreads when you’re bitten by a mosquito infected by tiny parasites. Malaria parasites are injected into the bloodstream by the insects during their bites. Not a virus or a particular kind of bacteria, rather parasites are the source of Malaria. If it isn’t treated, Malaria can cause severe health problems such as brain damage, trouble breathing, seizures, organ failure, and death.
World health initiatives provide bed nets sprayed with insecticide to keep people safe from mosquito bites and preventive medications to lower the number of malaria cases. According to the World Health Organization, children who live in nations where malaria cases are common are advised to receive the malaria vaccine.
How Common is Malaria?
Malaria is common in tropical areas where it’s humid or hot. There were 627,000 Malaria-related deaths worldwide in 2020, out of 241 million recorded cases of the disease. Most of these occurrences take place in South Asia and Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that this infectious disease spread by mosquitoes affects millions of people annually. The bulk of malaria cases and accompanying deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is where the majority of the burden falls.
Where Does Malaria Usually Occur?
Malaria is a global disease that is particularly common in developing nations and regions with warm temperatures and heavy humidity, such as:
- Central and South America.
- Dominican Republic Haiti and other areas in the Caribbean.
- Eastern Europe.
- South and Southeast Asia.
- Islands in the Central and South Pacific Ocean.
Who Might Get Malaria?
Malaria can strike anyone, but its prevalence is higher in African residents than in other populations. Older people, young children, and those who are pregnant have an increased risk of dying from Malaria. Individuals who lack access to healthcare and live in poverty are at a higher risk of developing medical complications.
Nearly all of the people who die from Malaria are little children, and more than 90% of Malaria deaths happen in Africa. In 2020, children under the age of five accounted for over 80% of the Malaria deaths that occurred in the region.
Signs and Symptoms of Malaria
As Malaria gets worse, it can cause Jaundice(yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), and Anemia. Cerebral malaria is the most severe type of malaria that can lead to a coma. A few persons with malaria go through cycles of “attacks.” Shivering and chills are typically the first symptoms of an attack, which are then followed by a high fever, sweating, and a return to normal temperature. After being bitten by an infected mosquito, signs and symptoms of malaria usually appear a few weeks later. However, some types of Malaria parasites can lie dormant in your body for up to a year.
Approximately 15% of infant deaths and almost 20% of adult deaths are of this sort. Signs and symptoms of Malaria are similar to flu symptoms. They include:
- Chills that shake your whole body.
- Sweating and fever.
- Headache and muscle aches.
- Chest pain, breathing problems, and cough.
When do Symptoms Begin if You’re Infected with Malaria?
Symptoms of malaria often manifest 10 days to 1 month following infection. The severity of the symptoms varies with the type of parasite. It can take a year for some people to experience symptoms from a mosquito bite. Sometimes, parasites can survive in the body for years without showing any signs. Depending on the kind of parasite, some malaria forms may recur. The parasites are inactive in your liver and then are released into your bloodstream after years. When the parasites start to circulate, the symptoms reappear.
Causes of Malaria?
A mosquito gets infected when it bites a person who has malaria. An infection is spread to the other person’s bloodstream when that insect bites them. There, the parasites multiply. Humans can contract malaria from five different types of parasites. Rarely, pregnant malaria patients may pass on the disease to their unborn child either before or during delivery. Although it is unusual, malaria can be spread by hypodermic needles, organ transplants, and blood transfusions.
How is Malaria Diagnosed?
In addition to examining you, Dr. Sheetu Singh will inquire about your medical history and symptoms. It’s critical to let your provider know which recent nations you visited so they can accurately assess your risk. She will take a sample of your blood and send it to a lab to see if you have Malaria parasites. The type of parasite causing your symptoms will also be identified by the blood test, which will inform your healthcare professional if you have malaria. Dr. Sheetu Singh will use this information to determine the right treatment.
How is Malaria Treated?
Treating malaria as soon as feasible is crucial. Your doctor will recommend drugs to eradicate the malaria parasite. Certain parasites are resistant to medications used to treat malaria. Some drugs are given in combination with other drugs. How long and what kind of treatment you take depends on the kind of infection you have. Antimalarial drugs include:
- Drugs containing artemisinins (artesunate and artemether). If an artemisinin combination medication is available, it is the most effective treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
- Atovaquone (Mepron®).
- Chloroquine. Some parasites are resistant to this medication.
- Doxycycline (Doxy-100®, Monodox®, Oracea®).
What are The Side Effects of Medications to Treat Malaria?
Antimalarial drugs can cause side effects. Antimalarial medications may interfere with other medications, so be sure to let your provider know about any other medications you take. Depending on the medication, side effects may include:
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight.
- Gastrointestinal (GI) issues such as Diarrhea, and Nausea.
- Vision problems and psychological disorders.
- Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus).
Complications of Malaria Disease
Malaria can be deadly, especially when it is caused by one of the prevalent African Plasmodium types. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, 94% of malaria deaths happen in Africa, mostly in children under the age of 5. Most often, one or more major complications from malaria cause deaths, such as:
- Kidney failure.
- Unusually low blood glucose.
- Liver failure, which can lead to Jaundice.
- Shock, which includes a sudden fall in blood pressure.
- swelling and rupture of the spleen.
- Pulmonary Edema, where fluid builds up in the lungs.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome, which affects breathing.
Can I Prevent Malaria?
Consult your healthcare professional about taking malaria preventive medication if you intend to go to or live temporarily in a region where the disease is prevalent. You will need to take the medicines before, during and after your stay. The probability of contracting malaria can be significantly decreased with medication. If you take these medications and still get malaria, they cannot be used to treat the illness. Additionally, you ought to take safety measures to prevent mosquito bites. To reduce your risk of contracting malaria, you ought to:
- Apply mosquito repellent with DEET (Diethyltoluamid) to exposed skin.
- Put screens on doors and windows.
- Cover mattresses with mosquito netting.
- Treat clothing, tents, mosquito nets, sleeping bags and other fabrics with an insect repellent called Permethrin.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants to cover your skin.
Is There A Vaccine Against Malaria?
A children’s vaccination was created and tested as part of a pilot program in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. The severe disease-causing Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children can be prevented using the RTS, S/AS01 vaccination. Other programs are working to develop a Malaria vaccine.