People living in subtropical and tropical parts of the world are at a high risk of malaria. It is a disease carried by female Anopheles mosquitoes. Plasmodium parasite contained in the bite of the mosquito has claimed about 627.000 lives with 241 million staggering cases in 2020. So far, South Africa has the highest malaria transmission record all around the world, with children being the most victims. The disease is also found in the eastern parts of Indonesia, especially Papua and West Papua. Meanwhile, DKI Jakarta, Bali, and other large cities in Indonesia are considered malaria-free.
To raise awareness of World Malaria Day on April 25, Puri Medical Clinic in Bali brings the subjects of causes, symptoms, and preventions of malaria to the attention in the following.
Causes of Malaria
There are several indications that can help in the reasoning of the causes of people suffering from malaria. The first one is a direct infection from the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito. When the mosquito bites someone with a Plasmodium parasite in his or her body, the next time for its meal, the coming victim picked up the parasite transferred through the mosquito bite. As a result, s/he will develop symptoms of malaria in 10 days or 4 weeks.
In another instance, malaria can also come from a blood transfusion, organ transplants, and multiple uses of a syringe that may contain the blood of people with malaria. Moreover, a fetus and newborn baby can be seriously infected by the Plasmodium parasite through his mother.
Risk factors are higher if one travels to malaria-endemic regions or countries, has a weak immune system (those with autoimmune disease, pregnant women, or young children), or visits a remote, malaria-endemic area with inadequate health facilities.
There are three stages when your body shows malaria symptoms; the cold stage (the patient feels a shivering sensation), a hot stage (the patient experiences fatigue, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and high fever, in children it might trigger seizures), and a sweating stage (the body temperature is starting back to normal through perspiration).
On the other hand, complications in malaria disturb your organ functions, even causing failures. Severe malaria may include serious anemia, blood clotting disorders, cerebral malaria, hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, and many others.
To understand your symptoms and the right treatments, your health professional will perform a rapid diagnostic test of malaria by taking a sample of your blood. Your diagnosis will take a look at how severe the symptoms are (including which stage you are in) and which Plasmodium species transmits the infection. The time period of infection differs depending upon the species of Plasmodium.
Preventions of Malaria
Follow several of these practices to deter the mosquitoes from coming in contact with you.
Malaria vaccine to combat the mosquito-borne disease
The RTS,S/AS01 was first developed in 1984 by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and GlaxoSmithKline. The vaccine provides sheer efficacy of 39%. However low it is, when combined with other practices below it will amount to over 90% of protection. This vaccine is recommended by WHO for regions with moderate to high malaria transmission levels.
Purchase bed nets and an insecticide spray
It is an effective tool to fight malaria mosquitoes during our sleep. Simply treat the bed nets with a mild insecticide and it is enough to keep them at bay. A journal revealed that there are differences in terms of mosquitoes and their biting time. Evening biters have the highest risk of malaria transmission in comparison to the midnight and morning biters. This is related to the maturation of the parasite that demands cooler temperatures. Further studies are of course necessary to confirm this fact.
Put on long sleeves – apply and reapply mosquito repellent lotions on your exposed skin
Especially if you are out in the open during the evening. The protection a repellent gives off depends on the percentage of DEET used as the based ingredient; 10% for around 90 minutes and 30% longer with 5-6 hours. Other ingredients introduced by the CDC that are equally effective as mosquito repellents are picaridin (safe to use for 2-month infants) and lemon-eucalyptus oil (not applicable for infants below 3 years old).
Prep antimalarial drugs before traveling to a remote area
There are several conditions that determine the medications you need. Therefore, consult your doctor about your concern so he can prescribe what is best for you.
Seek Medical Intervention ASAP
Timely treatment is critical for malaria. If the symptoms are not severe, it usually takes around 2 weeks for people who suffer from malaria to totally recover.