Malaria: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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Malaria

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a parasite-borne disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms are common in those who have contracted malaria. They may develop significant difficulties and eventually die if they are not address. In 2020, an estimated 241 million cases of malaria will be reported worldwide, resulting in 627,000 deaths, the majority of whom will be children in sub-Saharan Africa. Each year, around 2,000 cases of the disease are reported in the United States. The majority of cases in the United States are causes by travel to or by immigrants returning from countries where the virus is prevalent, with the majority of cases occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Despite the fact that malaria may be found all throughout the world, it is rather uncommon in the United States. Most common in developing countries and locations with high temperature and humidity, such as the following areas:

  • Africa.
  • Latin American countries include Central and South America.
  • Caribbean countries such as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and other locales
  • Eastern Europe is a region of the world that includes countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
  • South Asia is a geographical region.
  • Islands in the Pacific Ocean’s Central and Southern Hemisphere (Oceania).

Symptoms

Malaria symptoms often occur 10 days to one month after the person has been infected with the parasite that causes malaria. Symptoms can be minimal in some cases. Some people do not have any symptoms for up to a year after being bitten by a mosquito. Parasites are capable of surviving in the body for several years without exhibiting any symptoms.

Symptoms are very similar to those of the flu. They are as follows:

  • Fever and excessive perspiration.
  • chills that reverberate throughout the body
  • Headache and muscle aches are also common.
  • Fatigue.
  • Chest discomfort, breathing difficulties, and coughing.
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are common symptoms.
  • Anemia and jaundice can develop as a result of malaria as the disease advances (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
symptoms of malaria
Symptoms of malaria from Targets for new malaria drugs found by scientists at Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Bern and Umeå University (cambridgeindependent.co.uk)

Causes

Plasmodium falciparum is the type of malaria that most commonly produces severe and life-threatening symptoms. This parasite is common in many African countries south of the Sahara desert, and it is the most common type of malaria in the world.

People who are heavily expose to the bites of mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium falciparum are at the greatest risk of dying from malaria, according to the World Health Organization. Children and pregnant women, as well as travelers returning from malaria-free areas, are at greater risk of becoming very ill and dying if they do not have adequate immunity to malaria. Also, poor people who live in remote regions and do not have access to health care are at higher risk of contracting this illness. A combination of these factors is responsible for an estimated 90 percent of malaria-related deaths in Africa south of the Sahara; the vast majority of these deaths occur in children under the age of five years.

In addition, when a malaria-infected mosquito bites a person, they contract the disease. When a mosquito bites someone who has malaria, the mosquito becomes infected. A parasite transfers into a person’s bloodstream by an infected mosquito, where the parasites grow and infect other people. Malaria parasites can infect humans in five different ways.

Furthermore, pregnant women who have malaria may be able to transmit the disease to their unborn offspring before or during birth in rare instances. It can be transmitted by blood transfusions, organ donations, and hypodermic needles on a very rare occasion.

Diagnosis

Your healthcare professional will check you and inquire about your symptoms as well as your travel history. It’s critical to provide information about the places you’ve recently visited with your insurance provider so that they can accurately assess your risk level.

If you have malaria, your healthcare provider will take a sample of your blood and send it to a laboratory for testing to determine if you have malaria parasites. Blood tests can detect malaria and can also identify the type of parasite that is causing your symptoms. If you have malaria, you should have a blood test performed. This information assists your healthcare professional in determining the most appropriate treatment.

Treatments

Treatment for malaria is dependent on a variety of circumstances, including the severity of the sickness. The species of this parasite that causes the infection, and the region of the world where the infection reaches. The latter two traits aid in determining the likelihood that the organism may become resistant to specific antimalarial medications. Additional characteristics, such as age, weight, and whether or not a woman is pregnant, may limit the number of malaria treatment options accessible.

Also, its treatment should begin as soon as feasible after the diagnosis. In order to cure the disease, your healthcare professional will prescribe medications that will kill the parasite. Some parasites are resistant to the its medications that are now available. According to the parasite that is causing your symptoms, the type of medication and period of treatment will vary.

Antimalarial medications include the following:

  • Artemisinin-based medications (artemether and artesunate).
  • Mepron® is a brand name for the drug atovaquone.
  • Chloroquine.
  • Doxycycline (Doxy-100®, Monodox®, Oracea®) is a kind of antibiotic.
  • Mefloquine.
  • Quinine.

Preventions

If you reside or travel in a region where it is prevalent, speak with your healthcare provider about the possibility of taking it is prevention drugs. You must take the medications before, during, and after your stay.

Additionally, to reduce your chances of contracting malaria, do the following. You should do the following to reduce your risks of contracting malaria:

  • Apply DEET (diethyltoluamide) mosquito repellent to exposed skin to keep mosquitoes away.
  • Mosquito netting should be drape over beds.
  • Install screens on all of your windows and doors.
  • Permethrin, an insect repellent that can be use on clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags, and other materials, is recommended.
  • Dress in long pants and long sleeves to keep your skin covered.

Malaria is a serious illness, but it’s possible to prevent it. You can lower your risk of infection by protecting yourself from mosquito bites and taking preventive medications. If you’re traveling where the disease is common, talk to your provider several weeks before you leave.

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