June 24, 2024

Malaria is caused by parasites that enter your body through a mosquito bite. Africa is one of the hot, humid locations of the world where this occasionally fatal disease is present.

Malaria

Overview

What is malaria?

By biting you, a mosquito carrying microscopic parasites can spread the fatal malaria virus. When a mosquito bites, it injects malaria parasites into your circulation. Malaria is caused by parasites, not by a specific type of bacteria or virus.

Malaria can result in serious health issues like seizures, brain damage, breathing difficulties, organ failure, and even death if treatment is not received.

In the US, there are just 2,000 cases of the sickness every year. If you want to go to an area where malaria is common, speak with your healthcare provider about the necessary precautions to take. An individual who is afflicted can spread the disease to others if they enter the country and are bitten by a mosquito.

How common is malaria?

Malaria is a common disease in hot, humid tropical areas. Out of 241 million cases of malaria reported worldwide in 2020, 627,000 deaths were connected to the disease. The majority of these incidents happen in Africa and South Asia.

Where does malaria usually occur?

Malaria is a global disease that is most common in developing countries and areas with high humidity and warm temperatures, such as:

1. Africa.
2. Central and South America.
3. Eastern Europe.
4. South and Southeast Asia.
5. Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean nations.
6. Islands in the Pacific Ocean’s Central and South.

Who might get malaria?

Although everyone can get malaria, people who live in Africa have a higher risk of getting the illness than others. Malaria is more likely to kill little children, older adults, and pregnant women. People who are poor and do not have access to healthcare are more likely to experience complications from their diseases.

Nearly the bulk of the victims of malaria are small children, accounting for over 90% of the fatalities in Africa. 2020 saw more than 80% of the region’s malaria deaths occur in children under the age of five.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes malaria?

When a mosquito bites a person who has malaria, it becomes infected with the disease. When that mosquito bites someone else, a parasite gets into their system. There, the parasites multiply. Malaria can infect humans due to five distinct types of parasites.

In rare cases, pregnant malaria patients may pass on the illness to their before or during birth child either before or during birth.

It is possible, albeit unlikely, for blood transfusions, organ donation, and the use of hypodermic needles to spread malaria.

What symptoms and signs of malaria?

Malaria symptoms are comparable to those of the flu. Among them are:

1. Fatigue.
2. Fever and sweating.
3. Chills that shake your whole body.
4. Headache and muscle aches.
5. Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
6. Chest pain, breathing problems and cough.

As malaria progresses, anemia and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) may occur.

The most severe kind of malaria that can put a person in a coma is cerebral malaria. This type of fatality accounts for about 15% of baby deaths and nearly 20% of adult deaths.

When does a malaria infection first manifest its symptoms?

Malaria symptoms often appear 10 days to 1 month after infection. The type of parasite determines how severe the symptoms are. Some people don’t have symptoms from a mosquito bite for up to a year. Parasites can occasionally live in the body for years without causing any symptoms.

Certain types of malaria may recur depending on the type of parasite. The parasites are finally released into your bloodstream after lying latent in your liver for years. The symptoms return as soon as the parasites begin to spread.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is malaria diagnosed?

In addition to examining you, your healthcare practitioner will inquire about your medical history and symptoms. It’s imperative that you inform your provider of the recent countries you visited so they can properly evaluate your risk.

Your healthcare expert will take blood and send it to a lab to screen for malaria parasites. The blood test will not only detect whether you have malaria but also the particular kind of parasite that is causing your symptoms. Your provider will choose the appropriate course of action based on this information.

Management and Treatment

How is malaria treated?

Treatment for malaria must begin as soon as possible. Your physician will prescribe medication to kill the malaria parasite. Some parasites are resistant to the effects of malaria medications.

Certain medications are administered with other medications. The sort of parasite you have will determine the type of medication you take and how long you take it for.

Antimalarial drugs include:

1. Medicines containing artemisinins (artesunate and artemether). The most successful approach for treating Plasmodium falciparum malaria is artemisinin combination therapy.

2. Mefloquine.
3. Quinine.
4. Primaquine.
5. Atovaquone.
6. Chloroquine.

Medications can cure you of malaria.

What adverse effects can drugs used to treat malaria cause?

Antimalarial medications may have adverse consequences. Antimalarial medications may interact with other medications, so be sure to let your doctor know about any other prescriptions you use. Depending on the drug, the following side effects could occur:

1. Headaches.
2. Increased sensitivity to sunlight.
3. Insomnia and disturbing dreams.
4. Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
5. Seizures.
6. Anemia.
7. Gastrointestinal (GI) problems including diarrhea and nausea.

Prevention

Can I prevent malaria?

If you plan to go to or temporarily reside in an area where malaria is common, speak with your healthcare provider about taking preventive medicine. Prescriptions need to be taken before, during, and after your stay. The chance of getting malaria can be considerably reduced by taking treatment. You are not entitled to use these drugs as a treatment if you take them and still get malaria.

You should also take prophylactic action to avoid mosquito bites. To lower your chance of getting malaria, you ought to:

1. Use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET (diethyltoluamide) on exposed skin.
2. Drape mosquito netting over beds.
3. Put screens on windows and doors.
4. Apply a permethrin insect repellent on clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags, and other textiles.
5. Cover your skin by donning long sleeves and long pants.

Is there a vaccine against malaria?

As part of a pilot project in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, a children’s vaccination was developed and tested. The RTS, S/AS01 immunization helps protect children from Plasmodium falciparum malaria, which causes severe sickness.

A vaccine against malaria is being developed by other programs.

Outlook / Prognosis
What is the prognosis for malaria patients?

Malaria can result in major health issues, including death and irreversible organ damage if it is not treated appropriately. If you believe you have malaria, or if you have traveled to a region where malaria is prevalent, you must get treatment immediately. Early intervention increases treatment efficacy significantly.

Malaria can be treated and the illness eliminated from the body with the right drug and dosage. If a mosquito carrying the malaria virus attacks you after you have already had the illness once.

Living With

When should I discuss malaria with my doctor? (H5)

See your doctor right away if you have malaria symptoms and have visited or reside in a nation where the disease is prevalent. Treatment is more successful when it is detected early. In order to prevent the spread of malaria to others, it’s also critical to get treatment as soon as possible.

Additional Common Questions
How is sickle cell trait related to malaria?

Researchers have discovered throughout time that sickle cell trait carriers are somewhat protected against Plasmodium falciparum-caused malaria. It appears that the red blood cells’ sickle shape traps and aids in the destruction of parasites. Research is still being done to determine how to use this knowledge.

Possessing one normal gene and one sickle cell gene results in sickle cell trait. It differs from sickle cell illness. Sickle cell anemia belongs to the sickle cell disease group of blood diseases.

A note from Blogjug

Although malaria can be fatal, there are things you can do to avoid getting it. By taking preventive medicine and shielding yourself from mosquito bites, you can reduce your chance of infection. Speak with your healthcare practitioner a few weeks before your trip if you’ll be going somewhere where malaria is prevalent. If you are pregnant, this is really crucial.

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