Malaria: Causes, Signs, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
by MedPlus Team, April 29, 2021
Malaria still remains a serious and fatal disease despite all the medical advancements. Malaria is basically a parasitic disease that spreads from one human to another human when the infected Anopheles mosquito bites – hence, it is a mosquito-borne disease. Once a person gets infected by malaria they suffer from fever, headache, etc. The most vulnerable group for malaria disease is pregnant women and children. This is because children do not have an effective immune system and the immune system of pregnant women also gets reduced. In this article, we will see all in detail about causes, signs & symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of malaria.
Malaria Facts & Figures
As per the latest research by WHO, from April 2021, it is estimated that there are 229 million cases worldwide with about 4,09,000 deaths as of 2019 – out of which over 65% of the affected were children under the age of 5! African countries are often noted to be quite highly affected as compared to the other regions of the world. It is commonly noted that the rate of Malaria spread is higher in regions which are in slum areas, low land areas, wetland areas, etc.
Currently, there is no vaccine for malaria in India: However, two vaccines are on the verge of being launched in the market: PfSPZ and RTS, S/AS01. To fight the malaria disease, governments all around the world continue to take precautionary measures and spreading awareness among the people. One such awareness measure is the celebration of world malaria day on 25th April, every year – to raise awareness for the global effort to eradicate malaria from this world.
Causes of Malaria
Malaria disease is caused by a single-celled parasite known as plasmodium. Usually, there are four types of malaria parasites that can infect humans they are plasmodium vivax, P.malariae, P. falciparum, and P. ovale. Among these malaria causes, P.falciparum tends to cause a severe form of the disease and has a higher risk of mortality.
How is Malaria Transmitted
The malaria parasite gets transmitted from one person to another person through the bite of the anopheles mosquito. Similarly, malaria can also get transmitted from the blood through organ transplant, use of shared needles, and a transfusion.
Malaria signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of Malaria usually develop within 10 days to 4 weeks after getting infected from the parasite. But in it has also been found that in some cases patients do not show any symptoms for months. The common malaria symptoms include high fever, profuse sweating, shaking chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle pain, anemia, convulsion, bloody stools, and coma.
Once you experience any malaria signs, you must visit your doctor because if the signs are neglected they can become fatal. During the appointment with the doctor, they will review your (the patient’s) health history as well as any travel history to tropical regions. Apart from this, they will also perform some physical and pathological examinations. During malaria diagnosis, it is always checked if the patient has an enlarged liver or spleen. Further, by the pathological test reports the doctors will check whether the patient has malaria, type of malaria they have, doctors will also check malaria infection caused by which parasites and it is resistant to which type of drugs. Apart from this, they might also check if the patient has anemia or not and their vital organs are in a perfect state or not.
The treatment does not always require an expert’s care. Even the primary care doctors like general physicians, pediatrics, medicine specialists can also treat malaria disease. In order to treat malaria fever medical professionals first check on what type of antimalarial drugs to be administered to the patient. The choice for such a drug depends upon factors like the type of malaria parasite present inside the patient’s body, if the symptoms are severe or not, and also by ascertaining the patient’s body is resistant to which type of drugs.
The usual medicines for malaria are available in pill form but sometimes intravenous antimalarial drugs are also administered to the patients. The commonly used medicines to treat malaria fever are doxycycline like Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox, Vibramycin, etc. The other malaria medicine include chloroquine, mefloquine, artemether, primaquine phosphate, atovaquone, proguanil and quinine.
In order to remain safe from this contagious disease one needs to follow the different malaria prevention techniques which are discussed below:
1) If you are traveling to a tropical or subtropical region then before visiting those places you must consult your doctor they might prescribe you some medications you might require if you show malaria signs while traveling.
2) You should always use a mosquito net while sleeping as it can protect you from infected mosquito bites.
3) Clear the unwanted plants from your compound
4) Keep your home environment clean
5) If they are too many mosquitos in the place where you live or where you would be traveling always use an insect repellent gel on the exposed body parts
6) Prefer to wear long pants and long sleeve clothing if you are outdoors in the evening and night
7) You can also use mosquito repellent screens at your home to prevent the entry of mosquitos into your home
8) Before going to bed spray the insect repellent sprays in your room
9) Prefer to spray insect repellent spray on your thin clothes as mosquitos might bite you through the thin clothes