Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. Four kinds of malaria parasites infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malaria. P. falciparumis the type of malaria that is most likely to result in severe infections and if not promptly treated, may lead to death. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite is released into your bloodstream. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Malaria is transmitted by blood, hence it can also be transmitted through: an organ transplant ,use of shared needles or syringes
Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Clinical diagnosis is based on the patient’s symptoms and on physical findings at examination.
The first symptoms of malaria such as fever, chills, sweats, headaches, muscle pains, nausea and vomiting are often not specific and can be found in diseases like “flu” and common viral infections. Likewise, the physical findings are often not specific perspiration, tiredness and elevated temperature.
In severe malaria primarily caused by Plasmodium falciparum, clinical findings such as confusion, coma, severe anemia, neurologic focal signs and respiratory difficulties are more striking and may increase the index of suspicion for malaria.
Combination of symptoms cannot be helpful to distinguish from other causes, so a parasitological test is vital for identifying and managing the disease. Malaria parasites can be identified by examining under the microscope a drop of the patient’s blood, spread out as a “blood smear” on a microscope slide.
Malaria is treated to eliminate the plasmodium parasite from the bloodstream. The types of medication and the length of treatment will vary, depending on:
• Your age
• The severity of your symptoms
• Which type of malaria parasite you have
• Whether you’re pregnant
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) to treat uncomplicated malaria. Artemisinin It rapidly reduces the concentration of Plasmodium parasites in the bloodstream. Examples include artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem) and artesunate-amodiaquine. Each ACT is a combination of two or more drugs that work against the malaria parasite in different ways.
Chloroquine is the preferred treatment for any parasite that is sensitive to the drug. However, the drug is no longer an effective treatment as in many part of the world these parasites are resistant to chloroquine.
Other antimalarial drugs include:
• Quinine sulfate (Qualaquin) with doxycycline (Vibramycin, Monodox, others)
• Combination of atovaquone and proguanil (Malarone)
• Primaquine phosphate
• Mefloquine
Myths and Misconception about malaria:
• Once you suffer from malaria, it will stay in your body for life-long
• Drinking water from tanks may lead to malaria
• If I develop fever with chills and rigor it is malaria
• Malaria could be prevented by vaccination
• If blood test is negative for malaria, then I don’t need malaria treatment
• Once you get malaria you will be immune for the rest of your life
• Malaria doesn’t happen in the dry season.