- by Portea HomeCare
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- Apr 28 2017
Fight The Mosquito Menace
The term ‘Malaria’ derives its roots from Italian ‘mal’aria’ which means “bad air”. It is a fatal disease transmitted through the Anopheles mosquito. It carries the Plasmodium parasite that enters the bloodstream through a bite and then travels to the liver to mature and multiply.
The victim usually starts seeing the symptoms within 7-30 days of the bite. Although more than a hundred types of Plasmodium parasites exist, there are primarily 5 types that infect humans, namely
- P. malariae: Found all over the world, usually leads to chronic infection.
- P. vivax: Common in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Its symptoms sometimes take as long as a year to appear.
- P. ovale: Mostly found in Africa.
- P. knowlesi: Found in Southeast Asia, multiplies rapidly in blood causing fatal impact, in a lot of cases.
- P. falciparum: It is the most lethal type of Plasmodium parasite causing malaria, found mostly in tropical areas. It is also capable of causing cerebral malaria and accounts for most number of deaths.
Apart from Africa, malaria occurs in Eastern Europe, South Pacific regions, South America and Asia. HIV patients, pregnant women and children below the age of 5 are more prone to the disease. In fact, children aged 5 years and below account for 70% of the deaths worldwide.
The victim starts experiencing initial symptoms such as mild fever and headache within 10-20 days of being bitten. Sometimes, the parasites may remain dormant for a longer period.
What are the common symptoms?
- Dry cough
- Muscle pain
- Shaking chills
- Profuse sweating
In certain cases, especially with children, more severe symptoms could show up:
- Impaired consciousness
- Multiple convulsions
- Severe anaemia
- Respiratory distress
- Clinical jaundice
- Sign of vital organ dysfunction
What steps can be taken to prevent it?
Cover your skin by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants and also wear hats, if necessary
- Mosquito repellents are another good way to prevent mosquito bites
- Use mosquito nets while sleeping outdoors
- People travelling to disease prone countries can take anti-malarial drugs such as chemoprophylaxiswith them.
If diagnosed on time, malaria can be treated successfully, thus nullifying chances of it turning fatal. People suffering from prolonged fever or exhibiting initial symptoms should immediately get themselves tested. A Microscopy or Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) is highly recommended by the World Health Organisation for proper diagnosis. RDTs give results within 30 minutes and are therefore the most popular choice.
Like any other disease, early detection and treatment bear higher rates of success. Malaria can lead to death, if not treated on time. The treatment procedure for malaria is dependent on the host’s status, the type of parasite, area of infection, drug resistance status, patient’s allergies to drugs and any associated conditions the patient might have. Chloroquine, doxycycline, quinidine, clindamycin, hydroxychloroquine and mefloquine are some of the common drugs present in malarial medication. WHO also recommends artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for malarial treatment, especially for complicated cases of P. falciparum malaria. Artemisinin, a product derived from plant Artemisia annua, eliminates malaria causing parasites rapidly.
Certain things to know about malaria:
However, cases of resistance to Artemisinin based drugs were noted in 5 countries; Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The problem of drug resistance is a recurring one. Over time, the parasites start developing resistance to the drugs and it is then, that it becomes crucial to monitor and counter drug resistance. On the other hand, vaccines for malaria are still in their pilot stage. RTS, S/AS01, which has completed its Phase 3 testing,is a strong contender that WHO plans to roll out in a few African countries as a part of the pilot project. The vaccine also gained support from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which released a scientific opinion indicating the merit and associated risks from it. The vaccine would be a major breakthrough if it succeeds in gaining regulatory licence.
Malaria is a dangerous disease, which can transform to a life-threatening one, if adequate care measures are not adopted. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from malaria, get in touch with a doctor immediately.
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