Published by: Nibandh Vinod
Last updated: April 25, 2023, 7:00 AM IST
WORLD MALARIA DAY 2023: Malaria is a disease transmitted by mosquito bites and can be deadly to humans, especially in tropical areas. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2021 there were 217 million cases of malaria worldwide and 619,000 people died from the disease. While most cases occur in Africa, the WHO notes that about 20,000 people die from malaria each year in India.
World Malaria Day is celebrated on April 25 each year to draw attention to global efforts to control and eradicate the disease. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and prevention of malaria.
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- Malaria is caused by parasitic microorganisms called Plasmodium, which are unicellular in nature.
- These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, which carry the parasites in their saliva.
- Once in the human body, the parasites enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver, where they mature and begin to reproduce.
- There are five different species of Plasmodium parasites that can cause malaria, namely P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. knowlesi.
- Among them, P. falciparum is the most deadly and responsible for the majority of malaria-related deaths.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
- Patients begin to experience intense fever and chills, develop headaches, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, leading to intense exhaustion.
- Children show symptoms such as cough, fever, diarrhea and vomiting.
- The symptoms occur when the parasites reproduce in the red blood cells and cause them to rupture.
- The loss of red blood cells leads to anemia. Malaria can also lead to jaundice.
- Symptoms begin to appear anywhere from 10 days to four weeks after infection.
- Many patients develop respiratory distress, enlarged liver and spleen, fluid accumulation in the lungs, pneumonia, hypoglycemia, renal failure, retinal whitening, and encephalopathy.
- Further complications can lead to bleeding, impaired clotting, shock and death.
- Malaria is diagnosed using rapid diagnostic tests and microscopic examination of blood smears.
- The use of mosquito repellents is advised to prevent mosquito bites.
- Anopheles mosquitoes breed in standing water, in containers, puddles, paddy fields or animal hoof prints. Therefore, removing standing water is essential.
- The use of nets treated with insecticides and spraying insecticides indoors and outdoors is essential.
- WHO-recommended chemopreventive malaria therapies also exist.
- In addition, the vaccine RTS, S/AS01, which works against the P falciparum parasite, has been shown to be effective in reducing malaria in children.
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