Malaria is a potentially life-threatening infectious disease caused by a parasite that can be transmitted to individuals from the bite of an infected female plasmodium anopheles mosquito.
Malaria is a disease of the tropics and subtropical countries.
What is the first symptom of malaria?
Here are the signs and symptoms of malaria:
- The cyclic occurrence of sudden chills followed by shivering, then fever with profuse sweating.
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness).
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
- Joint pain
- Weight loss (lack of appetite)
What is malaria mode of transmission?
Malaria is transmitted through blood from a female anopheles mosquito bite. Therefore, in rare cases, some people have been infected with malaria through blood transmission, organ transplants, from mother to baby during birth called congenital malaria, and sharing sharp objects.
4 types of plasmodium mosquito can cause malaria. They are:
- Plasmodium Malaria
- Plasmodium Vivax
- Plasmodium Ovale
- Plasmodium Falciparum
How mosquito infects humans :
- A non-infected female anopheles mosquito bites an infected person with malaria, and then this non-infected mosquito becomes infected.
- The now infected female mosquito then bites a non-infected person and transmits her motile infected form called sporozoite into the bloodstream of the person.
- Inside the person, the sporozoite travels through the bloodstream to the liver cells (Hepatocytes), where it produces asexually and gives birth to thousands of merozoites.
- From the liver, the merozoites enter into the bloodstream and infect new red blood cells while replicating some more.
- This multiplication causes the infected cell to burst, and more merozoites are released into the bloodstream for the same cycle to take place.
- The continuation of this cycle triggers the manifestation of symptoms that last for 48 – 72hrs, after which patients feel better for a while. Then the merozoites multiplication cycle occurs again and triggers symptoms again for another period of time.
What are the complications of malaria?
- Cerebral malaria (coma): is the presence of unarousable coma, lasting longer than 30 minutes in the absence of other causes of coma with a positive parasitemia (P. Falciparum in peripheral blood smear)
- Pulmonary edema
- Dyspnea (Shortness of breath)
- Kidney failure
How is malaria diagnosed?
- A peripheral blood smear is a gold standard for diagnosis (Blood films)
- Malaria antigen detection rapid diagnostic test (RDT)
- Glasgow coma scale (in cerebral malaria cases)
What are the treatment options for malaria?
Malaria can be treated with prescription medicines, including:
- Quinine is the drug of choice for cerebral malaria
- Combination medications such as: Coartem (artemether-lumefantrine), Fansidar (pyrimethamine – sulfadoxine), Amalar plus (artemether, pyrimethamine + sulfadoxine), Quinine + Doxycycline, Quinine + Tetracycline, Quinine + Clindamycin, Malarone (Proguanil – Atovaquone): good for prophylaxis, Proguanil + Chloroquine (good for prophylaxis), Arlequin (Artesunate + Mefloquine), Coarsucam (Artesunate – Amodiaquine) and Pyramax (Artesunate – Pyronaridine)
- Mefloquine (Lariam).
How can you prevent malaria
- Insect repellent
- Mosquito nets
- Antimalarial prophylactic medications
- Wear long clothing items to cover your skin at night
- Dark or brightly colored clothing attracts mosquitoes, so lighter colors such as beige, khaki, olive, and white-colored clothing are good options to prevent being a target
- Fixed every stagnant water source around your living environment