Malaria: Signs and Symptoms, Tips to prevent the disease

Malaria is associated with a bite from the female Anopheles mosquito and in a few cases, can cause serious health complications. Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium.

          The term malaria originates from Medieval Italian: mala aria — “bad air”; the disease was formerly called ague or marsh fever due to its association with swamps and marshland. Malaria was once common in most of Europe and North America, where it is no longer endemic, though imported cases do occur.

The disease is most common in tropical and subtropical climates (hot and humid) where the parasites can live and are generally active.

 Types of malaria:

Parasites of the genus Plasmodium cause malaria. There are many species of the malaria parasite Plasmodium. However, only five of them infect humans. These are:

– Plasmodium falciparum: Found in tropical and subtropical areas and is a major contributor to deaths from severe malaria.

– Plasmodium vivax: Mostly found in Asia and Latin America. It involves a dormant stage that can cause relapses.

– Plasmodium ovale: Found in Africa and the Pacific islands.

– Plasmodium malariae: Found worldwide and can cause a chronic infection.

– Plasmodium knowlesi: Found throughout Southeast Asia. It can rapidly progress from an uncomplicated case to severe malaria infection.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS: Incubation period refers to how long it takes from initial infection to the appearance of symptoms.

This generally depends on the type of parasite:

 · P. falciparum – 9 to 14 days

· P. vivax – 12 to 18 days · P. ovale – 12 to 18 days

· P. malariae – 18 to 40 days However, incubation periods can vary from as little as 7 days, to several months for P. vivax and P. ovale. If you are taking medication to prevent infection (chemoprophylaxis) the incubation period is usually longer.

The signs and symptoms of malaria typically begin 8–25 days following infection; signs include:

· Decreased consciousness

· Significant weakness such that the person is unable to walk

· Inability to feed

· Two or more convulsions

 · Low blood pressure (less than 70 mmHg in adults or 50 mmHg in children)

 · Breathing problems

 · Circulatory shock

 · Kidney failure or hemoglobin in the urine

· Pulmonary edema

Prevention:

The best way to prevent malaria is to keep our home and surroundings clean. Having a strong civic sense is the best way to ensure safety from malaria.

1.Fog them out:

Get fogging in your neighborhood done before the rainy season starts as it helps to kill the mosquitoes that might be hiding at places.

2. Choose the right clothes:

Make sure you choose the right clothing to prevent malaria. Wear cover-alls, full-sleeved clothes, long pants that can help prevent mosquito bites.

3.Use mosquito repellent products:

You can use various over-the-counter mosquito repellant creams and bands. The same will help keep you safeguarded even when you are sitting in a garden or outside playing.

4.Use mosquito nets:

This is the simplest and ineffective way of keeping the mosquitoes away. A person is most vulnerable when they are sleeping. Using mosquito nets neither exposes you to harmful mosquito chemicals nor does it harm your body.

5.Use window nets:

Cover your windows well and keep them closed.

6. Keep your surroundings clean:

Keeping your surroundings clean is one of the best-recommended methods to prevent yourself from malaria. While travelling, make sure that you avoid loitering around.

TRANSMISSION:

Vectors: Plasmodium may exploit several genera of mosquitoes, as vectors and intermediate

hosts

· Culex

· Anopheles,

· Culiceta

· Mansonia and 

· Aedes

i. Bites of mosquitoes, 

ii. Mechanically by blood transfer as in mass vaccination,

iii. Caponization and injection. 

Malaria  parasites  are  transmitted  from  person  to  person  through  Anopheles  mosquitoes.

When a mosquito bites, blood containing the parasites is taken into the mosquito’s gut. Over a

period of 10 or more days, the parasites undergo a complex development, the mature parasite

eventually coming to reside in the mosquito’s salivary glands, ready for transmission to a new

person  when  it  bites  again.  In  the  next  human  host,  the  parasite  first  infects  the  liver,

undergoes rapid replication in this site for at least five days, and then infects red blood cells.

It is in the  blood  that the parasites causes  the  most serious symptoms of  malaria,  including

cerebral malaria initiated by parasitised blood cells blocking blood capillaries in the brain.

Human-to-human transmission of Malaria.