Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by infection by plasmodium parasites transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called malaria vectors. In most cases, it is a curable disease on early detection and proper treatment, but in some severe cases, the disease can lead to a patient’s death when not properly diagnosed and treated.
Malaria has mostly affected the poor tropical and subtropical areas of the world. In 2018 alone there were 228 million cases and 405000 people died of malaria, which mainly consists of young children. In areas with high cases of malaria, it becomes the major reason for illness and death. Young children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to malaria due to low immunity. According to WHO’s report Africa alone carries the burden of 93% malaria cases and 94% deaths caused by it. In recent years funding and resources for malaria control have pooled in enough to curb the problem.
In India, the most number of cases was contributed by the state of Orissa. With a population of only 36.7 million, it contributed 25% to the total number of 1.5-2 million cases. Other states inhabited by ethnic tribes, mainly in the forest ecosystem are more prone to malaria.
Four types of parasites cause malaria in a human body and they are, P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. ovale, P. vivax, and P. knowlesi. The most common cause behind the infection is P.falciparum followed by P. vivax in the world. P.falciparum is associated with death due to malaria but in some recent cases, there is evidence of P.vivax creating life-threatening conditions in the infected.
The disease is spread when a female Anopheles mosquito carrying Plasmodium parasite bites a host such as humans, thus acting as a transmission vector. These parasites travel through blood vessels to the liver cells and asexually reproduce and infect new red blood cells and initiate a series of asexual multiplication cycles that produce 8 to 24 new infective parasites, at which point the cells burst and the infective cycle begins anew.
Following the bite of the infected mosquito, the signs and symptoms start appearing between 7 – 30 days. P.falciparum has a shorter incubation period and P. malariae has the longest incubation period. People who have taken anti-malarial drugs can show symptoms late and this can result in misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis due to reduced reaction to the parasite. Therefore, after traveling to malaria-endemic areas, the traveler should inform the health care provider.
The symptoms of malaria are divided into three stages with attacks lasting 6-10 hours.
- A cold stage that produces a sensation of cold and shivering,
- A hot stage with fever, headache and vomiting; and
- Finally, the sweating stage where the body’s temperature returns to normal
In malaria-endemic areas, it is easy to identify the disease but in other areas, these symptoms can be dismissed as common cold or influenza which is why a thorough diagnosis is very important that would show signs of Elevated temperatures, perspiration, weakness, enlarged spleen, mild jaundice, enlargement of the liver and increased respiratory rate resulting in the patient having malaria.
Malaria can be potentially a fatal disease therefore treatment should be initiated as soon as possible. The disease is mainly treated with anti-malarial medications and its usage depends on the type of parasite, patient’s clinical status, the area where the infection was acquired, pregnancy status, and any drug allergies, a treatment regimen should be developed and strictly followed.
Vector control is the principal approach to prevent and decrease malaria transmission. On the off chance that inclusion of vector control intercessions inside a particular zone is sufficiently high, at that point a proportion of insurance will be given over the network.
WHO suggests assurance for all individuals in danger of malaria with compelling intestinal sickness vector control. Two types of vector control – bug spray rewarded mosquito nets and indoor leftover splashing – are compelling in a wide scope of conditions.
RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) is the first and, until now, the only vaccine to show that it can altogether decrease malaria, and perilous extreme intestinal sickness, in young African kids. It acts against P. falciparum, the most lethal malarial parasite all-inclusive, and the most common in Africa. Among youngsters who got 4 dosages in enormous scope clinical preliminaries, the immunization forestalled roughly 4 out of 10 instances of jungle fever over a 4-year time frame.