It is a pandemic disease common in tropical and subtropical countries and uncommon in temperate regions. Malaria is a disease that has affected many people worldwide and is becoming unsafe, hazardous and could be life-threatening some times.
Although, malaria can be prevented and treated, it has become a terror that continues to exist in the modern world (21st century). It is responsible for almost half a million deaths yearly and affects billions of people year in and out. Malaria is most common among poor and under-developed countries. Over 1.5 million cases are reported in Nigeria per year.
Symptoms of Malaria
· Nausea and Vomiting
· Muscle pain
Other signs and symptoms may include:
· Chest or abdominal pain
Early onset of Malaria starts with shivering and chills then high fever and sweating before it gets back to normal temperature. Signs and symptoms of malaria starts a few weeks after the infected mosquito bite. Though, some types of malaria parasites can lay inactive in the body for a year before manifestation of symptoms will occur.
What causes Malaria?
Malaria is caused by five different species of parasite. One of which is Anopheles mosquito. Anopheles mosquitoes are bred in clean, neat and pure water areas such as swamps, edges of rivers etc. The severity of malaria differs according to the species of plasmodium.
Transmission Cycle in Mosquitoes
It could begin from an uninfected mosquito which gets infected by biting a person who has malaria to transmission of parasite by the new infected mosquito through bites then down to the liver where the parasites could lay inactive for up to a year. From the liver down to the bloodstream where the parasites get mature and infect the red blood cells (RBCs), this is the period where symptoms of malaria manifest. This process continues and on to another person the transmission cycle repeats itself. However, if one is diagnosed of malaria early and treated as prompt, the transmission and spread of malaria would be released.
Other modes of transmission include:
· Exposure of infected blood
· From mother to unborn child
· Through blood transfusions
· By sharing of needles used for injection
Risk factors of Malaria
Living or visiting regions where the disease is rampant
People at risk of having Malaria:
People who have high chances or risk of being affected by Malaria are pregnant women and their unborn children. Also, children under the ages of five are susceptible to this disease. 70% of deaths that occur are within the age bracket of children less than the age five.
Other people at risk are:
· Older adults
· Travelers with no infection of malaria
Most times, deaths resulting from malaria are linked to one or more severe complications such as
· Breathing Problems
· Organ failure
· Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
· Cerebral malaria
Preventive methods of Malaria
· Cover your skin properly either by wearing a long sleeved shirts or pants
· Use a bed net to prevent bites from mosquitoes while asleep
· Apply Insect repellant to skin and clothing. Sprays containing DEET can be used on the skin and sprays containing Permethrin can be used on clothes.
Eight Interesting facts about Malaria
· Mortality rates of malaria have reduced drastically by 29% and 35% amongst the age group of children less than 5years old ever since the year 2010.
· Over 90% of malaria deaths are prone to happen in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
· There has been successful collaborations amongst organizations to help fight malaria. International communities and organizations that have shown support in fighting malaria include World Bank, United Nations and other non-governmental organizations.
· One of the first eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) introduced by the United Nations was the reduction of the responsibility of malaria all over the world.
· An organization dedicated to the cause of fighting malaria is the World Bank. World Bank Organization has donated approximately $1 billion to the control and management of malaria in the past years.
· In the year 2018, WHO planned to kick off a project of a first generation malaria vaccine targeted amongst groups in the Sub-Saharan Africa.
· In countries with high prevalence rates of malaria, economic development is poor and this discourages investment or partnership from outside countries and also negatively affect or weaken children’s ability to go to school.
Development of safe and effective vaccine for malaria is ongoing and still in process by scientists and researchers all over the world but there isn’t any vaccine accepted and approved for human use yet.
Residents of a region with exposure to malaria may develop a partial immunity against the disease which can reduce the effects of malaria symptoms.
However, if one moves to a country or region where there isn’t exposure to malaria, the partial immunity one acquired could disappear.