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Asked : 20 Jul 2024 Health

By : Editor CoAxial

What is Malaria?

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Answered : 20 Jul 2024

By : Editor CoAxial

Malaria is a disease initiated by a parasite that is transferred to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It affects millions of people globally, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. Symptoms of malaria involve fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue, and if left untreated, it can lead to severe complications and death.

There is no vaccine for malaria, but it can be prevented through the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and antimalarial medications.
Malaria is caused by a parasite of the genus Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. The parasite infects the red blood cells and multiplies inside the human host, causing symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue. Five species of the parasite cause malaria in humans: Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium knowlesi.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 409,000 people died from malaria in 2019, with over 90% of these deaths happening in sub-Saharan Africa. Children under the age of 5 are the most vulnerable, accounting for over two-thirds of malaria deaths globally.
Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, and significant progress has been made in reducing malaria cases and deaths worldwide in recent years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted malaria control and elimination efforts in many countries, putting progress at risk.
WHO and its partners are working to prevent the spread of malaria and ensure that people have access to life-saving tools, such as insecticide-treated bed nets, antimalarial medicines, and rapid diagnostic tests.
According to the National Health Portal of India, malaria is a significant public health crisis in India, with over 6 million cases reported annually. Although the number of malaria deaths in India has decreased over the years, it remains a significant cause of mortality, especially in rural and tribal areas.
In recent years, the government of India has launched several initiatives to control and eliminate malaria, including using long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and rapid diagnostic testing. However, despite these efforts, malaria continues to pose a challenge in India, especially in remote and underserved areas with limited healthcare services.
It is difficult to provide an exact number of malaria deaths in India, as the data is subject to various limitations, including underreporting and lack of access to healthcare in some regions. However, the Indian government and its partners are working to improve surveillance and data collection to better understand and respond to the burden of malaria in the country.

Malaria symptoms typically appear within 10 to 15 days after have being bitten by an infected mosquito. The symptoms include:

  1. Fever
  2. Chills
  3. Headache
  4. Muscle pain
  5. Nausea and vomiting
  6. Fatigue

In severe cases, malaria can cause:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Organ

If you suspect you have malaria, it is important to seek medical medication as soon as possible.
Malaria is treated with antimalarial drugs, which kill the parasite or prevent it from multiplying in the body. The choice of antimalarial drug and the length of treatment depend on several factors, including the species of the parasite causing the infection, the severity of symptoms, and the patient's age, pregnancy status, and overall health.
Common antimalarial drugs used to treat uncomplicated malaria include:

  • Artemether-lumefantrine
  • Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine
  • Mefloquine
  • Atovaquone-proguanil

Severe malaria, which can lead to complications such as organ failure and death, requires prompt and effective treatment with intravenous antimalarials, such as:

  • Artemisinin derivatives (e.g., artesunate)
  • Quinine

It is important to complete the full course of antimalarial treatment, even if you start feeling better, to prevent the parasite from re-establishing in your body and causing another infection.
Suppose you are traveling to a high-risk area for malaria. In that situation, it is important to take up preventive measures, such as using insecticide-treated bed nets and taking antimalarial prophylaxis, as a healthcare provider recommends. In addition, early diagnosis and treatment of malaria can diminish the risk of complications and improve the chances of a full recovery.

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