What is Malaria? And what are the Symptoms?
Malaria is a disease caused by five species of eukaryotic Plasmodium parasites (mainly Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax). These parasites are transmitted to humans by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquitoes. Even though malaria is less popular as a mosquito-borne disease, compared to the Dengue virus, it is one of the deadly diseases, that cause a considerable amount of deaths across the world.it is common in countries that have high humidity and warm temperatures; such as Africa, South Asia, Central/South America, and Eastern Europe. and Malaria is usually categorized into three categories, as asymptomatic, uncomplicated, or severe. At the asymptomatic stage, the symptoms are not visible, this can be caused by all Plasmodium species. In uncomplicated malaria, the symptoms generally occur 7-10 days after the mosquito bite. These symptoms can vary depending on the type of the parasite causing it and can result in mixed symptoms at times. But at this stage, severe organ dysfunctions cannot be found.
Symptoms of uncomplicated malaria are as follows:
- Feeling of cold, along with shivering
- High fever and vomiting
- Diarrhea and anemia
- Children sometimes may get seizures
- Feeling tired and exhausted.
Severe malaria is usually caused by Plasmodium falciparum. At this level, the symptoms include, damage to the vital inner organs of the body.
Some of the common symptoms of the severe malaria are,
- Severe fever and chills
- Severe anemia
- Difficulties in breathing
- Signs of jaundice (exclusively yellow urine and the yellow discoloration of the white areas of eyes and nails)
- Coma (cerebral malaria)
- Pulmonary complications and hypoglycemia
If not treated properly, severe malaria increases mortality.
Malaria risk factors:
Mostly malaria disease can be seen in rural areas, where the people lack access to necessary amenities. These people often lack adequate knowledge about preventing it from affecting. A sudden increase in mosquito population can be seen in wet seasons since the rainwater will stagnate in the surrounding, especially in potholes, and flowerpots, and can act as breeding grounds for mosquitos. Sometimes individuals fail to protect themselves from mosquito bites, mostly due to lack of proper knowledge, high cost, or simple inconvenience. People who are working in the agricultural sector are easily exposed to mosquito bites since they are working outside most of the time. The absence of efficient regulatory control measures increases the risk of malaria.
Prevention of Malaria:
Malaria can be prevented by either protecting from mosquito bites or by controlling the mosquito population. Especially when traveling into malaria-affected areas, people must protect themselves from mosquito bites. Wearing clothes that properly cover the body, and staying inside AC rooms, use mosquito repellents, and drape mosquito nettings over the bed.
To control the mosquito population, importantly we should destroy the mosquito breeding places. Preventing water logging in open spaces, spraying insecticides on unwanted sources of stagnant water, and breeding Guppy or Gambusia fish that eat larvae and pupae are effective methods to control the mosquito population.
World Malaria Day 2022:
Every year on the 25th of April, we come across “World Malaria Day”. It originated in order to raise awareness of this deadly disease around the globe. Before it was not “World Malaria Day”, it was originally “Africa Malaria Day”. But during the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, it was changed to “World Malaria Day”. The theme for this year’s malaria day is “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives”. New tools and new vector control interventions and insecticides, improve surveillance systems, and improvements and innovations in disease diagnosing and medicines & treatments are much more important to make an impact on the spreading rate of malaria. Without depending on old, typical prevention methods, the WHO is inviting the young generation to think and to use their innovative minds to seek quality solutions to conquer this global disease. While using the old methods of protection, let’s discover better innovations to prevent malaria disease.
Written by : Shehara Nethmini