What is malaria disease?
Malaria is a disease that is spread by mosquito bites carrying microscopic parasites. When a mosquito bites you, it releases parasites that cause malaria into your blood. Malaria disease is caused by parasites, not a virus or bacterium.
If left untreated, it can result in organ failure, death, convulsions, brain damage, breathing difficulties, and brain damage.
The condition is uncommon in the United States, where there are only approximately 2,000 cases documented each year.
How common is malaria disease?
In hot and humid tropical regions, malaria disease is common. Worldwide, there were 241 million reported cases of malaria in 2020, resulting in 627,000 deaths. Africa and South Asia account for the majority of these cases.
Who might get malaria?
It can happen to anyone, but people who live in Africa are more likely to get it than other people. Its death rates are higher in pregnant women, older people, and young children. Complications from the disease are more common in those who lack access to healthcare and live in poverty.
Africa accounts for more than 90% of malaria disease deaths, and nearly all of them involve young children. In the region, children under the age of 5 will account for more than 80% of malaria deaths in 2020.
Causes of malaria disease
It is caused by a plasmodium parasite, which is a single-celled parasite.
Cycle of mosquito transmission
- Mosquito becomes infected after feeding on a malaria patient.
- When you are bitten by the mosquito again. It may transmit malaria parasites to you.
- Once inside your body, the parasites make their way to your liver, where some varieties can lay dormant for up to a year.
- The parasites mature and depart the liver, infecting your red blood cells. This is when most people experience malaria symptoms.
- If an uninfected mosquito bite you at this stage in the cycle. You will get infected with your malaria parasites and may transfer them to others.
Other modes of transmission
Because the parasites that cause malaria disease target red blood cells, people can contract malaria disease through contact with contaminated blood, which includes:
- From the mother to the unborn child
- Transfusions of blood
- By sharing drug-injection needles
signs and symptoms of malaria disease
Malaria disease symptoms are similar to those of the flu. They are as follows:
- Fever and perspiration
- Chills that make your entire body shake.
- Muscle pains and headaches
- Cough, chest pain, and breathing difficulties
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- It can induce anemia and jaundice as it progresses (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
Cerebral malaria is the most severe form of malaria, which can lead to a coma. This type accounts for roughly 15% of infant mortality and nearly 20% of adult deaths.
Diagnosis of malaria disease
Your doctor will check you and inquire about your symptoms and travel history. It’s critical to disclose information about recent trips to countries so that your provider understands your risk.
Your physician will take a blood sample and send it to a lab to determine whether you have malaria parasites. The blood test will inform your doctor if you have malaria and which sort of parasite is causing your symptoms.
Management and treatment
It is critical to begin treating malaria disease as soon as possible. Your doctor will prescribe drugs to kill the malaria parasite. Some medications are not effective against some parasites.
The type of parasite determines the type of drug and the duration of treatment.
Antimalarial medications include:
Artemisinin-based medications (artemether and artesunate). If available, artemisinin combination therapy is the most effective treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
- Mepron (atovaquone).
- Chloroquine. This drug is not effective against parasites.
- Doxycycline (Oracea®, Monodox®, Doxy-100®).
Antimalarial medications can have negative side effects. Tell your provider about any other medications you’re taking, as antimalarials can conflict with them. The following side effects may occur depending on the medication:
- Nausea and diarrhea are examples of gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
- Sunlight sensitivity has increased.
- Insomnia and unsettling dreams
- Psychological issues and eyesight issues
- Intense ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
Prevention of malaria disease
To reduce your risk of contracting malaria, you should:
- Apply DEET (diethyltoluamide) insect repellent to exposed skin.
- Drape mosquito netting over mattresses.
- Install window and door screens.
- Permethrin, an insect repellent, should be applied to clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags, and other materials.
- Cover your skin by wearing long pants and long sleeves.
Is there a vaccine against malaria disease?
A vaccine for children has been developed and tested in a trial study in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. The RTS, S/AS01 vaccine protects against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, which can be fatal in young people.
Other programmes are attempting to create a malaria vaccine.