Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a parasite, Plasmodium, which infects red blood cells. Of the four common species that cause malaria, the most serious type is Plasmodium falciparum malaria. It can be life-threatening. However, another relatively new species, Plasmodium k., is also a dangerous species that is typically found only in long-tailed and pigtail macaque monkeys. Like P. falciparum, Plasmodium k. may be deadly to anyone infected. The other three common species of malaria (P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale) are generally less serious and are usually not life-threatening. It is possible to be infected with more than one species of Plasmodium at the same time. 

CAUSES

  1. The bite of infected Anopheles In humans, the parasites (sporozoites) travel to the liver, where they mature and release another form, the merozoites. These enter the bloodstream and infect the red blood cells.
  2. Transmitted from a mother to her unborn baby and by blood transfusions.

Symptoms And Signs–

  • Anemia
  • Chills
  • Coma
  • Convulsion
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Bloody stools
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Hepatomegaly
  • Splenomegaly

Investigations–

Malaria blood smears taken at 6 to 12 hour intervals.

Treatment-

Treatment is based on 

  1. Infecting species of Plasmodium parasite
  2. Clinical situation of the patient (adult, child, or pregnant female with either mild or severe malaria)
  3. Drug susceptibility of the infecting parasites.

Complications—

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Liver failure and kidney failure
  • Meningitis
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Rupture of the spleen leading to hemorrhage

Prevention—-

  1. Avoid travel to or through countries where malaria occurs if possible. Begin taking antimalarial drugs about one to two weeks before traveling to a malaria infested area and for four weeks after leaving the area.
  2. Be aware of peak exposure times and places: Vectors of malaria are most active in twilight periods (for example, dawn and dusk) or in the evening after dark. Avoiding the outdoors or focusing preventive actions during peak hours may reduce risk.
  3. Wear appropriate clothing. Repellents or insecticides such as permethrin can be applied to clothing and gear for added protection.
  4. Bed nets are essential to provide protection and to reduce discomfort caused by biting insects. Bed nets are most effective when they are treated with an insecticide or repellent such as permethrin
  5. Aerosol insecticides, vaporizing mats, and mosquito coils can help to clear rooms or areas of mosquitoes
  6. Optimum protection can be provided by applying repellents.

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