Malaria: Overview

Malaria is a health condition caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to humans by mosquito bites from infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is caused by five parasitic species, two of which P. falciparum and P. vivax – are the most dangerous to humans. The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest and most common in the African continent. According to a report, India accounts for 3% of the worldwide malaria burden, resulting in 2 million confirmed cases per year. One may need to take medications before, during, and after the travel to lower the risk of contracting malaria.


Symptoms of Malaria

Symptoms generally show 10 to 4 weeks after the infection. Symptoms may not appear for several months in some circumstances. It can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chills could range in severity from mild to severe
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • High fever
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Profuse sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
Symptoms of Malaria

Causes of Malaria

When a malaria-affected person gets bitten by a mosquito, the insect becomes infected. When a mosquito bites another person, it transmits a parasite into their blood circulation. The parasites proliferate there. Humans can be infected by five different kinds of malaria parasites. Malaria-infected pregnant women can pass the sickness on to their unborn offspring in rare circumstances. It can be transmitted by blood transfusions, organ donations, and hypodermic needles, but this is unlikely.

Malaria Transmission

Complications

Malaria may be lethal, especially when it is caused by plasmodium species that are common in Africa. Malaria deaths are frequently linked to one or more significant complications, such as:

  • Cerebral malaria : Cerebral malaria occurs when parasite-filled blood cells block tiny blood arteries in the brain, resulting in brain swelling or damage. Seizures and coma are possible side effects of cerebral malaria.
  • Breathing problems : Fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary oedema) can make it difficult to breathe.
  • Organ failure : Malaria can induce organ failure by causing damage to the kidneys, liver, and spleen, as well as causing the spleen to burst. Any of these disorders can put their life in jeopardy.
  • Anemia : Malaria can cause anemia, which means people don't have enough red blood cells to get enough oxygen to the body's tissues (anemia).
  • Low blood sugar : Severe types of malaria, as well as quinine, a major malaria treatment, can produce low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Low blood sugar levels might lead to unconsciousness or death.

Malaria Prevention

Malaria may be prevented in many cases. The ABCD method to prevention is a simple way to remember -

  • Awareness of Risk : Before traveling, find out if you're at risk of contracting malaria.
  • Bite Prevention : Use insect repellent, cover your arms and legs, and use an insecticide-treated mosquito net to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Check if malaria prevention medications are required : Make sure you have the proper antimalarial tablets at the right dose and finish the course.

Diagnosis

The doctor will most likely evaluate the patient's medical history and recent travel, do a physical exam, and prescribe blood tests to detect malaria.

Blood testing can reveal the following:

  • The presence of the parasite in the blood can be used to determine whether or not you have malaria.
  • If the infection is caused by a parasite that is drug-resistant.
  • Whether the condition is creating any major side effects.

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may request further diagnostic tests to examine potential problems.


Malaria treatment

The treatment your doctor recommends will depend on things like

  • The type of parasite you have and the severity of your symptoms will all affect the treatment the doctor advises.
  • Where did patients get infected
  • The age, and whether or not one is expecting a child.

Doctors use a variety of medications to treat malaria that including:

  • Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine : If the symptoms aren't significant and you live in an area where the parasite hasn't developed resistance to chloroquine, the doctor may offer one of these medications.
  • Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) : This is a combination of two drugs that function in separate ways. They're used to treat milder instances of malaria or as part of a more comprehensive treatment strategy for more serious cases.
  • Atovaquone-proguanil, artemether-lumefantrine :These combinations offer another possibility in areas where the parasite has developed resistance to chloroquine. They can also be given to kids.
  • Mefloquine : If chloroquine isn't possible, this medicine has been associated with uncommon but substantial negative effects on the brain and should only be taken as a last resort.
  • Artesunate : If the symptoms are severe, the doctor may consider using this medicine for the first 24 hours and then switching to artemisinin-based combination therapy for the next three days.
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is malaria a contagious disease?

Malaria is not directly contagious from person to person. It is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. However, in rare cases, it can be transmitted through organ transplantation, blood transfusion, or from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth or breastfeeding.

2. How do I know if I have malaria for sure?

To confirm a malaria infection, you need a blood test. Malaria diagnosis typically involves examining a blood sample under a microscope to identify the presence of malaria parasites. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are also used in many areas for quick and reliable diagnosis.

3. How long can you carry malaria?

Malaria does not remain in the body indefinitely. The duration of the infection varies depending on the type of malaria parasite, the effectiveness of treatment, and individual factors. With proper treatment, most malaria infections are cleared within a few weeks. However, some individuals may carry the parasites for an extended period if not treated promptly.


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