Time to act- malaria cases on the rise in the Coastal region
According to a recent study, the instances of malaria are increasing in the coastal region. The World Health Organization estimates that 438,000 people die of malaria every year, the vast majority among those being young children.The study indicates that malaria prevalence in the coastal region increased from 4 percent to 8 percent, while endemic lake side regions stand at 27 percent. Owing to the growing prevalence of malaria in the coastal region, it becomes imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the deadly disease. Here’s looking at how:
What exactly is malaria?
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite and spread by mosquitoes. There exist three important facets of the life cycle of the disease. These include the following:
- The Anopheles mosquito that carries the Plasmodium parasite which is where the parasite starts its life cycle.
- The parasite, having multiple subspecies, causes the disease with different severity of symptoms and responds to different types of treatments.
- Once inside the human body, the parasite travels to the liver, manifests itself there and starts growing. It then travels throughout the body through the bloodstream and infects and destroys red blood cells.
Malaria is not a contagious disease and does not spread from person to person, but is only spread through mosquitoes.The incubation period for the disease is about 7 to 30 days post a mosquito bite.
Causes of malaria
The Plasmodium parasite and 4 others in this genus are responsible for causing malaria. These include the following :
- malariae: prevalent worldwide, the P. malariaeparasite is responsible for causing chronic malarial infection.
- falciparum: commonly found in subtropical and tropical areas, the P. falciparum is majorly responsible for severe cases of malaria, commonly leading to death.
- vivax: found in Asia and Latin America, the P. vivaxparasite has a dormant stage wherein people assume that the infection is cured, but then infections caused by this parasite might relapse.
- knowlesi: found in the southeast Asian region, the P. knowlesiparasite can rapidly progress from an uncomplicated infection to a severe case of malaria
- ovale : the P. ovaleparasite is generally found throughout the Pacific islands and Africa
Symptoms of malaria
After a bite by an infected mosquito, symptoms can take between 7 and 30 days to manifest.
Cases of malaria can be classified as complicated (or severe) and uncomplicated malaria
- Uncomplicated malaria – The most common symptoms of an uncomplicated malaria infection include the following:
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting, and
- General weakness and body aches.
- Complicated or Severe Malaria – Complicated or severe malaria occurs when different systems of the body are affected by malaria. Common symptoms of complicated or severe malaria include:
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Severe anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells
- Kidney failure
- Cerebral malaria causing symptoms like seizures, unconsciousness, abnormal
behaviour and confusion
- Low blood sugar
Diagnosis of malaria
Since the symptoms of malaria are very similar to a viral infection or to the flu, examining a recent history of travel to areas suffering from a malaria endemic becomes necessary in order to determine the possibility of exposure to the malaria causing parasite.
A confirmative diagnosis of malaria is made by examining the blood of the patient under a microscope in order to identify the presence of the parasite. The most widely accepted test, the patient’s blood is prepared under a slide stained with a specific color in order to identify the parasite.Rapid antigen tests may also be performed as a diagnostic test. All these tests are offered by the Pacific International Hospital and can be acquired at any time when symptoms of malaria are experienced.
Treatment of malaria
Depending upon factors including:
- The severity of symptoms
- Determination of drug resistance and
- The specific species of the parasite identified,
Appropriate medications are chosen, to be administered in the form of a pill or as an intravenous injection.
The most commonly used medications for the treatment of malaria include:
- Quinine (Qualaquin)
- Atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone)
- Chloroquine (Aralen)
- Doxycycline (Vibramycin, Adoxa, Oracea, Atridox)
- Mefloquine (Lariam), and
- Primaquine phosphate (Primaquine)
Prognosis of malaria
With early diagnosis and appropriate administration of antibiotics, the prognosis of malaria has been deemed to be very good. The Pacific International Hospital offers an advanced and quality healthcare to the community through various programs including the screening and prognosis of malaria.
Death is usually caused due to lack of treatment, which is now a rare occurrence.The P. falciparum species tends to be the one that causes a high number of complications and has a high mortality rate if left untreated. Cerebral malaria, a complication of P. falciparum malaria, has a 20% mortality rate even if treated.
Prevention of malaria
The prevention of malaria includes the following steps:
- The first step is to determine the prevalence of malaria in any region that you are traveling to, helping you determine which medication is to be taken as chemoprophylaxis.
- In case your health care professional recommends the use of chemoprophylaxis, make sure you discuss the pros and cons of the medication prescribed, as well as its compatibility with any health issues that you might have.
- Preventive measures taken in order to prevent mosquito bites include the following
- In areas infested with mosquitoes, make sure that you sleep under bed nets that are arranged in such a way that they cover all of the bed, down to the floor, and are covered with an insecticide.
- Apply an effective insect repellent cream to any and every part of skin that is exposed at night and even during the day.
- Wear clothes that cover most of the skin and sport shoes that are closed, in order to reduce the amount of exposed, uncovered skin. Treating clothes with insecticides is also a great idea.