Although the control and prevention of malaria can be easily executed, an estimated 627,000 deaths occurred worldwide due to malaria in 2020 alone. According to the World Malaria Report of 2020, there were an estimated 241 million malaria cases in 85 malaria-endemic countries, increasing from 227 million in 2019.
Now you might be wondering why malaria is causing so many deaths if it is completely treatable and preventable? Well, there is an alarming lack of knowledge about this disease in many communities. This misunderstanding of malaria and its vectors by the general public often derails all malaria control attempts which in turn results in more deaths.
Hence, in light of the upcoming World Malaria Day (April 25), this blog intends to raise awareness: about the symptoms of malaria, why malaria is caused, its treatments and prevention.
Let’s start with a simple understanding of what malaria is and how it’s transmitted.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is an infection caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. These parasites are present in the Anopheles mosquitoes. There are four different types of plasmodium and the two major human malaria species common in India are Plasmodium Falciparum and P. vivax.
When one gets bitten by this mosquito the parasite enters the bloodstream and infects the red blood cells and liver cells. The transmission of malaria only happens if one is exposed to the infected red blood cells. Meaning, that it can be either transmitted through infected mosquito bites, blood transfusions, organ transplants, or the shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood. The disease does NOT transmit through simple contact with an infected person.
So what happens when one is infected with this parasite?
Symptoms and signs
Symptoms usually appear between 10 days to 4 weeks after getting infected. However, they can even appear as early as 7 days or as late as a year. Some common symptoms include ?
- High fever
- Cold sweats
- Feelings of confusion
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
- Chest and abdominal pain
Since most of these symptoms are similar to flu, it is possible to get misdiagnosed. Hence, it is important to know why malaria is caused and discern whether you are at risk or not.
Diagnosis for Malaria
If you start showing one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. Your doctor will examine your symptoms and ask for a detailed history of the places you’ve visited. This is done to understand your risk of malaria infection.
To confirm the diagnosis, one or both types of the following tests are conducted. Either a malaria test called blood smear test or another called rapid diagnostic test is conducted. If the tests turn up positive, treatment is started as soon as possible.
Most patients with malaria will recover completely if they are treated early. Treatment is given based on the severity of the symptoms. Some of them include ?
- Medicines to remove the parasite from the bloodstream
- Hospitalization for those with severe symptoms
- Intensive care, when complications arise
How to prevent malaria?
As mentioned earlier, malaria is completely preventable. Some of the things you can do to keep yourself from getting infected include ?
- Keeping the windows and doors closed in mosquito infected areas
- Using either screens or wire mesh to cover your windows
- Using a mosquito net over your bed
- Using plugin mosquito repellents
- Removing any and all stagnant water puddles that might be forming in and around your home
In conclusion, the fight against malaria can be won by simply treating, testing and tracking the infection. If you have any further queries that have been unanswered, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible! And if you need a medical consult about any of the symptoms you might be experiencing, reach out to doctors at the best multispecialty hospital.