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WHAT ARE THE PREVENTIVE MEASURES FOR MALARIA?

What is malaria?

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease caused by single-cell parasites of the genus Plasmodium. There are three main types of malaria: P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. ovale, each named after the parasite’s respective morphological form in the blood when observed under a microscope. Moreover, this disease is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. Here, about half of the world’s population lives within its endemic range. You can look for effective malaria treatment as soon as possible if you have the symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of malaria?

The parasites are spread by the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito. Symptoms usually develop 10-21 days after infection. However, initial symptoms may include-

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Some people may also experience-

  • Profuse sweating
  • Jaundice
  • Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells)
  • Hypoglycemia (lowered sugar in the blood)
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Antimalarial drugs can help treat this disease. In the absence of proper and prompt treatment, it may turn fatal. 

What can help control the disease?

Insecticides used to kill mosquitoes also pose a threat to the environment. They can contaminate soil, water, and air and affect non-target organisms. Mosquito control programs often rely on the use of insecticides. However, more sustainable methods are needed to reduce the spread of this disease.

People can get malaria without having any symptoms at all. It happens if a mosquito carrying the parasite bites them. Nevertheless, consult your doctor for malaria treatment if you notice the symptoms. 

What causes malaria?

Plasmodium parasites cause malaria. Mosquitoes transfer these parasites from person to person. When a mosquito bites a malaria-infected person, it injects some parasites into the bloodstream. Furthermore, the parasites travel to the liver. Here, they multiply and infect red blood cells. It can cause fever, seizures, coma, and death.

What are the types of plasmodium parasites?

Five diverse kinds of Plasmodium can cause malaria in humans. They are- 

  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Plasmodium vivax
  • Plasmodium ovale
  • Plasmodium malariae
  • Plasmodium knowlesi

Out of these, P. falciparum and P. vivax are responsible for most of the cases, accounting for about 90% of the total cases.

The parasites are normally spread from person to person through the bites of infected anopheles mosquitoes. However, a mosquito must first become infected with malaria after biting an already infected human or animal before it spreads the disease to other people. Your doctor may identify the type of the parasite and prescribe effective malaria treatment. 

How is malaria diagnosed?

Diagnosing malaria is not easy. Some people can feel very sick with this disease. However, others have few or no symptoms at all. If you are diagnosed with this disease, it is significant to understand you could have had the disease for months without knowing it! It takes time for the parasites to grow and cause illness. In addition, sometimes there are no symptoms at all.

What are the stages of malaria?

The bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito causes the most common type of malaria. However, malaria has three stages-

  • Illness may develop in about 10 days to many months. However, the average time is 21 days. Symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and tiredness. The illness may last for weeks.
  • Without treatment, the infection usually goes away on its own. Antimalarial medicines can help you feel better more quickly. However, sometimes the parasites are not completely killed by these drugs. Here, you may become ill again when your body temperature rises due to sunlight or physical activity. The second stage of malaria may last for months.
  • If you do not receive malaria treatment, the parasites that cause malaria may remain in your liver for years. They may cause fever and flu-like illness every 2 to 4 weeks. It is called tertian malaria or “quartan malaria “. However, it depends on whether your fever comes every 3 days (tertian) or every 4 days (quartan).
  • Eventually, your liver will get rid of the parasites. You will not have malaria anymore. However, it may take more than a year for this to happen.

Unfortunately, some people develop another form of malaria called cerebral malaria. It occurs due to the infection of red blood cells in the brain. This condition can lead to seizures or coma. 

Diagnostic process

  • Physical test

Most cases are diagnosed based on physical signs and symptoms. Your doctor may see your body for a fever, look at your eyes and mouth for other signs that you might have the disease. Moreover, he or she may ask about travel to the disease-prone area before prescribing any malaria treatment. 

  • Blood test

Your doctor may conduct a blood test to look for the parasite in your red blood cells. If you have malaria, there will be parasites in a sample of your blood. However, this does not always mean that you have it. For example, the parasites can show up in a person’s red blood cells after vaccination or if they have been in bed for a long time. However, the parasites may not be visible not if an infected mosquito has bitten a person. 

  • Microscopic examination

Your doctor may look for the parasites on a slide or in a sample of your blood under a microscope. Every so often, this is called a “thick and thin smear “. However, it may be impossible to tell if they are causing illness even when many parasites are there in the blood. You can have the disease without developing a fever and other symptoms. Therefore, even if your doctor thinks that you might have malaria based on your signs and symptoms and a negative blood test for malaria, he or she will probably still want to check for parasites in your blood.

Your doctor may also do other blood tests to look for signs of other illnesses that cause similar symptoms. They include typhoid fever, leptospirosis, or dengue fever.

What are the effective medications for malaria treatment?

Malaria is a dangerous disease caused by parasites. They invade and destroy red blood cells. Moreover, it can be fatal, especially to children.

Many medications can treat malaria. Antimalarial drugs prevent the development of infection within the body. Moreover, they also reduce any symptoms, which develop due to infection. Parasites cause malaria. Therefore, antimalarials do not kill the parasites directly. Instead, they reduce their ability to multiply and cause symptoms in an infected person. Several antimalarial medications can treat malaria. However, the choice of the drug may depend on the type of parasite present and upon factors such as individual patient needs and medical history.

Are other medications helpful?

  • Chloroquine

Chloroquine is often the first choice for malaria prophylaxis. It can treat a person who has a mild form of malaria. However, it is only effective in areas with a low rate of chloroquine-resistant parasites. If this malaria treatment fails, your doctor may recommend an alternative. Chloroquine is a generally well-tolerated drug with minor side effects. Nevertheless, they can lead to headaches and nausea.

  • Quinidine

Quinidine can alleviate severe malaria infections. You should not use this medication as a substitute for another antimalarial. Instead, doctors do not prescribe them in combination with another antimalarial drug. It can be harmful when taken on its own. However, people can tolerate quinidine well, causing minor side effects.

  • Artemether-lumefantrine

Artemether-lumefantrine is a highly effective treatment for uncomplicated malaria in areas where multi-drug resistance is a problem. This fixed-dose combination medication contains both artemether and lumefantrine. It can also be used in areas with resistant malaria when other treatments have been tried and failed. However, doctors prescribe them only when other options are no longer available.

  • Quinine

Quinine can help treat people with severe malaria. Moreover, it is also effective for treating multi-drug-resistant malaria. This malaria treatment can cause some side effects. They may include headache, ringing in the ears, nausea, and diarrhea.

  • Mefloquine

Mefloquine is used as a prophylactic treatment. It protects people against the development of infection in people visiting areas with a high risk of catching malaria. However, this antimalarial medication can cause mild side effects. They may include nausea and dizziness. However, it may also result in serious side effects, such as psychiatric symptoms and seizures.

  • Artesunate-amodiaquine

This medication relieves uncomplicated malaria infection when a parasite resistant to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine causes the disease. However, artesunate-amodiaquine can cause side effects such as dizziness, headache, vomiting, and stomach ache.

  • Chlorproguanil-dapsone

Chlorproguanil-dapsone can treat multi-drug-resistant malaria. The medication is usually well-tolerated. However, it can cause side effects such as nausea and diarrhea.

  • Halofantrine

Halofantrine is effective for treating people who have multi-drug resistant or severe malaria. However, the medication can cause side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. In some people, it can cause heart problems or even death. Therefore, if you are using this malaria treatment, consult your doctor for side effects. 

  • Atovaquone-proguanil

Doctors prescribe atovaquone-proguanil as malaria prophylactic. The medication is also effective for treating multi-drug-resistant malaria. Atovaquone-proguanil is well-tolerated. However, it can cause side effects such as headache, diarrhea, and nausea.

  • Mefloquine+primaquine

Mefloquine+primaquine combination can alleviate multi-drug resistant or severe malaria infections that have not responded to other medications. However, this combination can cause severe side effects. They include psychiatric symptoms and seizures.

  • Artesunate

Artesunate is most commonly used to treat severe malaria. However, it can ease multi-drug-resistant malaria, which has not responded to other medications. Artesunate can cause mild or serious side effects. They include low blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhea, and a fast heart rate.

What are the complications of malaria?

The parasites of the genus Plasmodium cause malaria. They are transmitted to humans via mosquitoes of the anopheles genus. However, infection occurs if bitten by an infected mosquito. The parasites multiply in the body and enter red blood cells. Here, they steal hemoglobin to produce more offspring. In the absence of proper malaria treatment, complications may occur. However, they may include-

  • Anemia

Anemia results due to the loss of red blood cells. It leads to a decrease in oxygen that reaches the body’s tissues. Furthermore, it can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, and heart problems.

  • Kidney failure

The kidneys are responsible for removing waste products and excess water from the body. However, when they fail, toxins accumulate in the blood. They lead to cause seizures, confusion, and coma.

  • Death

Malaria is a serious disease that can lead to death if not treated correctly.

With prompt diagnosis and treatment, people who contract the disease can get rid of it. In regions where malaria is common, it is vital to be tested for the disease if you experience any of its symptoms. An early malaria treatment can help prevent complications. 

How can you prevent malaria?

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites of the species “Plasmodium”. They are transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Furthermore, the parasites multiply in the liver, infect red blood cells, and cause a generalized infection with fever, headaches, and vomiting. It can be very serious or even fatal if left untreated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two ways to prevent malaria. 

  • The first is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. They may carry malaria parasites. Therefore, it is best not to be bitten at all. 
  • Be careful when you go outside. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that cover your skin, especially around sunset when mosquitoes are most active. Moreover, you can also use insect repellent.
  • The second way to prevent malaria is to take medicine to prevent it. There are several different medicines available. However, your doctor may help you choose the best one for you. You will need to take it every day, starting before you travel and continuing for a while after you return home. In addition, it is significant to take all of the doses, even if you do not feel sick.

Along with using your malaria treatment, other ways to prevent the disease are-

  • Stay in well-screened areas
  • Sleep under a mosquito net

If you are unable to prevent the disease, you can always ensure that you are well-informed when traveling to unfamiliar countries. It will help you avoid the places that may cause your chance of catching this disease to increase.