Malaria

Malaria mosquito

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of malaria

The rise and spread of communicable diseases have posed a major threat to life and health. In the recent decade, the scenario has been very grave in the low and middle-income countries that lack the minimum conditions for maintaining a healthy and hygienic lifestyle. In many of these countries, the temperature and weather conditions are ideal for microbial growth and propagation, which makes the inhabitants more vulnerable. Malaria is one such disease that has led to unnumbered epidemic outbreaks in the past.

The statistics of the UNICEF show that nearly 1 million people worldwide die from the disease every year. Nearly 90% of these incidences occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and affect mainly children below the age of 5. The World Health Organisation reports that nearly 200 million people suffer from malaria annually. The global health organizations have collaborated to spread awareness related to Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.

What is Malaria?

Malaria Malaria mosquitois a common mosquito-borne disease mediated by a class of parasitic protozoans that belong to the Plasmodium family.

The disease affects humans and other animals. But the manifestations occur mainly in the human hosts.The disease spreads mainly through the bites of the Anopheles mosquito.

It is mainly characterized by high fever, vomiting, fatigue, and headache.In many cases, the parasite remains in a dormant state within the host’s body and may cause recurrent malaria at some point in time. In extreme cases or after a few recurrent malaria instances, the patient may eventually die from the disease.

What causes Malaria?

In the human hosts, Malaria is mainly caused by the parasites belonging to the Plasmodium family. The common species are-

  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Plasmodium malariae
  • Plasmodium ovale
  • Plasmodium vivax
  • Plasmodium knowlesi

Most of the cases are caused by the Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, which lead to most of the fatalities as well.

The female Anopheles mosquito is usually the carrier of the parasite.

When an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a human host, it transmits the sporozoite (a motile form of the parasite) into the human body.

The sporozoite migrates via the blood vessels to the hepatocytes (liver cells) where it multiplies and produces innumerable merozoites. The infected red blood cells henceforth undergo a number of multiplication cycles, producing new infective merozoites. Eventually, these cells burst and the infective cycle occurs from the beginning.

The remaining merozoites transform into immature gametocytes. As a fertilized mosquito bites an infected human, the gametocytes are transferred into the mosquito’s body through the blood and they progressively mature inside the mosquito’s gut. A fertilized motile zygote results, which is called ookinete. These zygotes thereby develop into new sporozoites that finally migrate to the mosquito’s salivary glands and are ready to infect a new human host. When a mosquito bites a healthy human host, the sporozoites are injected into the skin.

Phases of Malaria

The Malaria infection develops through two distinct phases namely- the erythrocytic phase (occurs in the red blood cells) and the exoerythrocytic phase (occurs in the liver cells). During a blood meal, the sporozoites transmit from the mosquito’s saliva into the bloodstream of the person, where they multiply for 8-30 days.

Symptoms of Malaria

The symptoms of Malaria usually manifest themselves around 8-25 days after the primary infection. The disease begins with flu-like symptoms and gradually leads to gastrointestinal symptoms and other complications. The commonly observed symptoms are listed below-

Itching of hands due to a mosquito bite

  • A headache, fever and shivering (occur in a cyclic order)
  • Bouts of vomiting
  • Episodes of acute joint pain
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Presence of hemoglobin in urine
  • Jaundice
  • Fits and convulsions
  • Damage to retina
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Feebleness
  • Inability to carry out normal joint movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extremely low blood pressure (less than 70 mm Hg in adults and 50 mm Hg in children)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Problems in blood circulation (the patient may need blood supply in extreme cases)
  • Impaired kidney functions
  • Bleeding problems
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Drop in blood glucose level (less than 40mg/dL)
  • Acidosis (lactate concentration higher than 5 mmol/L)

Types of Malaria

According to the part of the body affected, the causative pathogen and the resulting complications, Malaria can be classified into the following categories-

  • Algid malaria: It is caused by the Plasmodium falciparum and affects mainly the gut and other abdominal viscera. It is of two types- gastric algid malaria and dysenteric algid malaria. Gastric malaria leads to persistent vomiting and dysenteric malaria leads to bloody diarrhea. A large number of infected red blood cells are found in the stool in this case. The patients may also experience persistent chills, circulatory shocks and cardiovascular ailments.
  • Bilious malaria: Triggered by Plasmodium falciparum, this type mainly affects the liver and leads to jaundice-like symptoms and vomiting.
  • Cerebral malaria: This is also mediated by Plasmodium falciparum and affects the cerebrum. The patients may experience hypoglycemia, seizure and even coma.
  • Congenital malaria: As the name implies, it is present in the child at the time of birth. It is usually transmitted to the neonate through maternal-fetal circulation.
  • Quartan malaria: This is triggered by Plasmodium malariae. It is marked by paroxysms (spasms) every fourth day. 

Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis is essential to accurately detect malaria and enable effective treatment. The following diagnostic tests are usually carried out-

  • Antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests
  • Platelet count
  • Bilirubin level check
  • Checking of spleen size

The common drugs recommended for Malaria are- Quinine, Chloroquine, Mefloquine, Doxycycline or a combination of Malarone and Atovaquone. Before administering the drugs, the symptoms of Malaria should be crosschecked with that of other diseases in order to avoid misdiagnosis and wrong treatments.

Treatment & Prevention

The main aim of effective malaria treatment is to remove the pathogen, Plasmodium parasite from the body of the patient.

In case of uncomplicated malaria (mild symptoms and no impact on organ functioning), ACT or Artemisinin-based combination therapy is used.

It is usually administered along with an additional drug; the combined effect of both helps in eliminating pathogens from the body.

There are no formal vaccinations for malaria till date.

The best and most effective way to prevent malaria is to avoid mosquito bites at all costs.  Sleeping under mosquito nets and regular use of insecticides will help in the prevention of malaria. When visiting regions prone to malaria, one should wear clothing that covers the entire body without exposing much skin area and take anti-malarial drugs. One can also spray insecticides on clothes. Additionally, use insect repellent lotions every time you step outside. Don’t allow water to stagnate.

Malaria is an extremely life-threatening disease and leads to innumerable fatalities if not detected in the earliest stages. The health units in the tropical and subtropical countries are warning people about the sites in and around the residences that promote the breeding of mosquitoes. Mosquito control sprays are being used to curb the growth of the disease. Self-awareness and preventive measures like the use of mosquito nets and repellents is the first and foremost step towards preventing and controlling the disease.

Malaria home remedies

The following home remedies can be safely employed in addition to the usual medicines prescribed by the doctor for treating malarial symptoms:

  • Add crushed cinnamon and pepper to warm water along with honey and drink this mixture 2-3 times a day. This herbal remedy has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that will help in reducing the symptoms of malaria.
  • Drinking turmeric milk will help in flushing out toxins from your body.
  • Orange juice is high in vitamin C. Drinking 2-3 glasses of orange juice every day will help in building a strong immune system against the malaria parasite.
  • To get quick relief from the fever and body ache, drink a concoction of ginger and warm water. This will also help fight the infection.
  • Soak fenugreek seeds overnight in water and drink this mixture the next day. It will restore your body’s strength and boost energy levels.

TL;DR?

Facts

  • Malaria is a largely widespread disease with almost 212 million malaria cases reported in 2015 alone. Out of these 429,000 cases were fatal in nature.
  • More than 70% of all the fatalities associated with this disease occur in children under 5 years of age.

Facts

  • Due to extensive application of malaria prevention and control measures, the mortality rate of this disease has fallen by 29% globally.
  • Africa remains as the worst-affected continent. Worldwide, over 3.2 billion people are at a risk of acquiring this disease.

Facts

  • The health complications caused by malaria are fatal to pregnant women. It may cause sudden abortions, pre-term births, low-birth weight, and maternal anemia.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you live in a malaria-prone region or are visiting such a place, use long-lasting insecticidal nets in your room. It provides protection for 2-3 years effectively.
  • Indoor-residual spraying is also an effective way of controlling the malaria-spreading vector.
  • Honey, ginger, lemon juice, and fruit juices are good for malaria patients.
Don'ts
  • Allow water to stagnate- spray insecticides and use DDT near contaminated water sources.
  • Travel to any malaria-prone region in case of pregnant women.
  • Eat heavy food. Don’t sleep immediately after consuming food.

 

 

 

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Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
50 common health conditions
What are the top 50 deadly and widespread diseases? A complete list of the top 50 most common and deadly diseases that plague humanity. Which disease is…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…