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Preventive Measures for Malaria

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Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease that spreads through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito. Read to know about preventive measures for malaria.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

Published At January 30, 2023
Reviewed AtJanuary 30, 2023

Introduction:

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. It is initiated by a female Anopheles mosquito bite introduced by its salvia into the circulatory system and then to the liver, where maturation and reproduction occur. Its symptoms range from headache to coma and are usually seen in tropical and subtropical regions.

What Is Malaria?

Malaria is a zoonotic parasitic disease that spreads to humans through an infected female mosquito. The mosquito acts as a host; while it takes blood meals for egg production, the transmission occurs. Parasites of the genus Plasmodium are the infection source, infecting female mosquitoes of the species Anopheles.

What Are the Different Types of Malaria?

The different types of malaria based on their causative organisms are as follows:

  • Plasmodium Falciparum: Causes brain fever, and 90 % of human death are evident.

  • Plasmodium Vivax: It is less serious but difficult to treat, and fever occurs every few months.

  • Plasmodium Ovale: Less common as well as less serious.

  • Plasmodium Malariae: It is a parasitic protozoan that causes malaria in humans. It is usually found in Africa, Asia, and Africa.

What Are the Symptoms of Malaria?

The signs and symptoms are seen two weeks after the mosquito bites. The symptoms of malaria involve:

  • Fever.

  • Chills.

  • Headache.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Feeling of discomfort.

  • Diarrhea (refers to watery loose stool more than two times a day).

  • Cough.

  • Rapid heartbeat.

  • Fatigue.

  • Muscle or joint pain.

  • Rapid breathing.

  • Yellow skin.

  • Kidney failure.

  • Bloody stool.

Where Is Malaria More Prevalent?

Malaria occurs throughout the world. The most common places where the occurrence of malaria is common are:

  • Africa.

  • Eastern Europe.

  • Central and South America.

  • Dominican Republic, Haiti, and other areas in the Caribbean.

  • South and Southeast Asia.

  • Islands in the Central and South Pacific Oceans.

Who Is Prone to Get Malaria?

Malaria can affect everyone, but those who reside in Africa are more likely to contract the disease than those who do not. Older people, young children, and pregnant women have increased chances of dying from malaria. Poverty-driven people are more prone to getting infected with malaria.

How to Diagnose Malaria?

The diagnosis can be made by medical history and following laboratory tests, which are as follows:

  • Thick and Thin Blood Smears: This is the most accurate and common malarial test. The blood is lined in the form of smears on the slide. The sample is sent to the lab to detect the presence of the malarial parasite.

  • Rapid Diagnostic Test: Also known as antigen testing, it is a quick test. It is done by pricking the finger, and the blood is drawn on the strip to detect whether the person is suffering from malaria.

  • Molecular Test: Or polymerase chain reaction test is done to identify the type of parasite.

  • Antibody Test: It is done by seeing the type of antibody present in the blood after infection.

  • Advances Diagnosis Techniques: Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), nucleic acid sequence-based amplification, isothermal thermophilic helicase-dependent amplification (tHDA), saliva-based test with nucleic-acid amplification, saliva-based Plasmodium protein detection, urine test involving the detection of Plasmodium protein pHRP-2, and transdermal hemozoin detection.

How to Prevent Malaria?

The measures to prevent malaria are as follows:

  • Application of mosquito repellent with DEET (diethyltoluamide) to exposed skin.

  • Draping mosquito netting over the bed.

  • Covering the doors and window with a screen.

  • Treating mosquito nets, clothing, fabric, and sleeping bags with an insect repellent called Permethrin.

  • Wearing long sleeves and pants to cover the skin.

  • Keeping the surroundings and home clean without waste or junk.

  • Administration of vaccines to children who live in a place where malaria is endemic.

  • Mosquitos usually thrive in stagnant water areas, so the collection of water should be avoided in isolated places or in buckets.

  • Avoiding travel to endemic places where malaria outbreak has occurred.

  • The fan should be opened during nighttime to prevent any exposure to mosquitoes.

  • Special attention must be paid to young kids and infants to ensure mosquito bites.

What Is a Malaria Vaccine?

The malaria vaccine is used for the prevention of malaria. The world’s first malaria vaccine was developed in mid-2015 named, Mosquirix; it was made to work against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Africa. The vaccine starts working by preventing the malarial parasite from entering the liver, where it multiplies and matures to cause disease symptoms.

What Are the Complications of Malaria?

The complications of malaria include:

How to Treat Malaria?

Treatment of malaria depends upon the severity of the symptoms, age, and whether the person is pregnant or not. The treatment plan includes the following:

  • Chloroquine Phosphate: It is the most preferred treatment for parasites sensitive to the drug. But in some parts of the world, parasites are resistant to Chloroquine, and the drug no longer becomes an effective treatment.

  • Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapies: A combination of two or more drugs that has work action against the malarial parasite in different ways. It is the preferred treatment for Chloroquine-resistant malaria.

  • Other Malarial Drug: Includes Atovaquone-proguanil, Quinine sulfate, and Primaquine phosphate.

What Are the Side-Effects of Medication Used to Treat Malaria?

Antimalarial drugs used in the treatment of malaria cause side effects. Depending upon the use and severity of the medication, the side effect may include:

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) issues include diarrhea (loose watering stool that occurs more than twice a day) and nausea.

  • Headaches.

  • Increased sensitivity towards sunlight.

  • Insomnia and disturbing sleep.

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

  • Seizures (refers to an uncontrolled and sudden electrical disturbance in the brain).

  • Anemia (refers to the condition in which the blood does not make enough healthy red blood cells).

  • Psychological disorders and vision problems.

What are the differential diagnosis of Malaria?

Mosquitoes transmit other diseases such as West Nile virus, Zika virus, chikungunya virus, and dengue fever. Other diseases that cause fever, chills, nausea, anemia, and vomiting, such as ebola, typhoid fever, shigellosis, and lassa fever, must be distinguished from malaria.

  • Ebola- Symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, generalized pain or malaise, and occasionally internal and external bleeding after an incubation period of two to 21 days.
  • Typhoid fever causes fever, headache, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, lymphadenopathy, relative bradycardia, cough, and leucopenia, as well as sore throat on occasion. The presence of the causative bacteria can be confirmed through blood and stool cultures.
  • Shigellosis and other bacterial enteric infections - Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, and sometimes toxemia, vomiting, cramps, and tenesmus. Stool frequently contains blood and mucous.
  • Lassa fever typically manifests as fever, sore throat, cough, pharyngitis, and facial edema in the later stages. Inflammation and exudation of the pharynx and conjunctiva are common.
  • Flaviviridae and Yellow Fever- Symptoms include hemorrhagic complications. Epidemiological research could reveal disease transmission via an insect vector. Virus isolation and serological studies aid in the identification of these viruses. A previous yellow fever vaccination history will almost certainly rule out yellow fever.
  • Others - In the early stages of infection, signs, and symptoms of viral hepatitis, leptospirosis, rheumatic fever, typhus, and mononucleosis may be confused with malaria.

Conclusion:

Malaria is a serious life-threatening disease that occurs as a result of a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes are usually found in every part of the world. The common symptoms of malaria include chills and fever that disappear after a few days and reappear after several months or weeks. Female Anopheles mosquitoes are an important vector for causing malaria. Vector control is one of the most effective ways to control the spread of malaria. Malaria can affect vital body parts. A suitable control measure is the only option to prevent the spread of mosquitoes.

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Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha
Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

Infectious Diseases

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