World Malaria Day: All you need to know about this mosquito-borne disease

Malaria is a fatal and life-threatening disease that is primarily caused by a family of parasites known as Plasmodium. These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bites of anopheles mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 228 million malaria cases and more than 4 lakh malaria-deaths were reported worldwide in the year 2018. The report also asserts that children under the age of 5 are the most vulnerable group affected by the disease and accounted for almost 67% (2.72 lakh) of the global malaria deaths.

Symptoms of Malaria

Medical experts claim that malaria is one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the world. It is an acute febrile illness that typically exhibits symptoms 10 or 15 days after the mosquito bite. However, in some cases, the malarial parasites may remain dormant and symptoms may not develop even for several months. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of malaria include:

  • High fever and headache
  • Shaking chills, ranging from moderate to severe
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhoea
  • Muscle pain and fatigue

Apart from the symptoms mentioned above, malaria can also result in a number of fatal complications. Some of them include:

  • Swelling of the blood vessels in the brain; cerebral malaria
  • Accumulation of fluid in the lungs, leading to breathing difficulties; pulmonary edema
  • Organ failure – kidneys, liver or spleen
  • Low blood sugar

Furthermore, children with severe malaria may also experience severe anaemia due to the destruction of the red blood cells and respiratory distress in relation to the metabolic acidosis.

Causes of Malaria

Malaria is generally caused by four kinds of malarial parasites – plasmodium malariae, plasmodium ovale, plasmodium vivax, and plasmodium falciparum. Out of the four, plasmodium falciparum causes a more severe form of the disease and is associated with a higher risk of death. The parasites enter the human body via mosquito bite and travel to the liver where they get mature. Once mature, they enter into the bloodstream and infect the red blood cells (RBCs). These parasites then multiply inside the red blood cells, forcing the infected cells to burst open. Medical experts assert that people can also catch malaria if they are exposed to infected blood. This can happen due to infected blood transfusion, sharing needles for injecting drugs, or during an organ transplant.

Treatment of Malaria

Malaria is a serious health condition and people should seek medical help immediately in case they experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms. Doctors generally prescribe special anti-malarial medications or pharmaceutical products manufactured by the top pharmaceutical companies in India, based on the type of parasite residing in the patient’s body. These products have proven to be extremely helpful in the treatment of malaria.

However, as the treatment of malaria could be troublesome, people are always suggested to take certain effective preventive measures such as wearing long sleeve clothing, using mosquito repellents, staying in well-screened areas, etc. in order to safeguard themselves and their family against this life-threatening disease.

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