Malaria: A disease without borders
Malaria is a life-threatening disease that spreads when an infected mosquito bites a human. There are some tiny parasites that can infect mosquitoes. When it bites, the mosquito injects malaria parasites into the person’s bloodstream. Malaria is common in tropical areas where it’s hot and humid. According to some reports In the United States, about 2,000 people get malaria every year. Worldwide, more than 220 million people get malaria annually. The majority of these cases occur in Africa and South Asia. Around 450,000 people die from the disease every year.
What causes malaria?
People get malaria when an infected mosquito bites them. A mosquito becomes infected by biting someone who has malaria. The infected mosquito transfers a parasite into a person’s bloodstream.
In rare cases, pregnant women with malaria can transfer the disease to their children before or during birth. Very rarely, malaria can transfer through blood transfusions, organ donations, and hypodermic needles.
What are the symptoms of malaria?
Malaria symptoms appear 10 days to one month after the person was infected. Symptoms can be mild. Some people don’t feel sick for up to a year after the mosquito bite. Parasites can live in the body for several years without causing symptoms
Some of the symptoms of malaria are discussed below
- Headache and muscle aches.
- Chest pain which includes breathing problems like a cough.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- As malaria infection upgrades it can also cause anemia and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
Management and treatment
Can I prevent malaria?
- Avoid travel in that areas where malaria is common
- Take proper medications to prevent malaria. You will need to take the drugs before, during, and after your stay.
- Apply mosquito repellent with DEET (diethyltoluamide) to exposed skin.
- Drape mosquito netting over beds.
- Put screens on windows and doors.
- Treat clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags and other fabrics with an insect repellent called permethrin.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves to cover your skin.
The author is Dr. J.Satyanarayana Rao, Senior General Physician, Kamineni Hospital, LB Nagar, Hyderabad