Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito-borne blood disease of the tropics and sub-tropics. Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans via the bites of infected Anopheles mosquito. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then red blood cells.
Symptoms of Malaria:
Symptoms of Malaria is divided into two categories: Uncomplicated Malaria and Severe Malaria.
Uncomplicated malaria symptoms typically lasts 6 – 10 hours and recur every second day. As symptoms of malaria sometimes resemble those of flu, the disease may remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in the regions where malaria is uncommon. In uncomplicated malaria, the following symptoms progress through hot, cold, and sweating stages:
- Sensation of cold with chills or shivering
- Headaches, fever and vomiting
- Sometimes, seizures occur in younger individuals
- Sweats, followed by a return to normalcy (in temperature) with fatigue or tiredness
In the regions where malaria is very common, many individuals know the symptoms and treat malaria by themselves without seeing a doctor.
If laboratory or clinical evidence points towards dysfunction of vital organ, it is severe malaria.
Severe malaria symptoms include:
- Fever and shivers/chills
- Impaired consciousness
- Respiratory distress and deep breathing
- Multiple convulsions
- Signs of anemia and abnormal bleeding
- Evidence of vital organ dysfunction and clinical jaundice
Severe malaria can be fatal without treatment.
Diagnosis of Malaria
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can save life. A blood sample should be taken from all individuals showing the symptoms of malaria and examined immediately for malaria parasites in a reliable and experienced laboratory.
If no parasites are identifies in the first blood film, a series of blood samples should be taken at intervals of 6 to 12 hours and examined very carefully. In diagnostic centres where malaria microscopy is unavailable or is unreliable, malaria rapid diagnostic tests may prove to be useful. When laboratory analysis is delayed, doctors should first initiate treatment if clinical indicators and travel history of the patient suggest malaria.
Treatment of Malaria
The aim of the treatment should be to eliminate Plasmodium parasite from the bloodstream. Individuals without symptoms can be treated for infection to decrease the risk of disease transmission in the surrounding community.
To treat uncomplicated malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). Artemisinin is derived from the Artemisia annua plant, which is also called the sweet wormwood. It is most effective in rapidly reducing the concentration of Plasmodium parasites in the bloodstream.
Doctors often combine ACT with other partner drugs. While ACT reduces the number of parasites within the first 3 days of malaria infection, partner drugs eliminate the remaining parasites. Meanwhile, in places where malaria is resistant to ACT, effective partner drug treatment has to be taken up.
Prevention of Malaria :
- Quick and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination drug therapies
- Use of insecticidal nets by people at risk along with along with mosquito repellents
- Indoor residual spraying with insecticide to control the vector mosquitos
The ABCD of malaria protection
- Be Aware of the risk, the gestation period as well as the main symptoms
- Avoid being Bitten by mosquitoes, particularly between dawn and dusk
- Take anti-malarial drugs, Chernoprophylaxis, to suppress infection
- Seek Diagnosis and treatment immediately if you develop fever that lasts for one week or more after travelling to an area where there is malaria risk, and up to 3 months after departure.