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Prevention of Developing Malaria in Children - An Overview

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Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease that spreads through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito and most commonly affects children. Read to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At December 26, 2022
Reviewed AtJune 30, 2023

Introduction:

Malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. It spreads through the bite of a female mosquito. High fever and shaking chills are common symptoms of malaria. It is the most common disease in subtropical and tropical countries. Every year 290 million people are infected with malaria, and nearly 400,000 die from this disease. World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended children's vaccines to protect from malaria. Protective nets, creams, and insecticides can be used while traveling. It is a life-threatening disease that can be prevented as well as cured.

What Is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite that spreads through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The mosquito takes up the parasite by biting the person who is already infected with malaria. Malaria can also pass from mother to child through organ donation, shared needles, or blood transfusion. Malaria can affect any age group but especially affects pregnant women and children.

What Is the History of Malaria?

Malaria is derived from the medieval Italian word “ bad air.” The disease was earlier called marsh fever or algae due to its association with marshland and swamps. The history of malaria was first recorded in China. It is also known as Roman fever, as it leads to the decline of the Roman empire.

  • 1820: Quinone derived from tree branches was used to treat malaria.

  • 1880: Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran was the first to identify the malaria parasite and was awarded the 1907 Nobel prize for the discovery.

  • 1898: Sir Ronald Ross demonstrated the transmission of malarial mosquitoes and won a Nobel prize for his work.

  • 1934: During world war-2 in Germany, Hans Andersag Sang discovered an antimalarial drug called Chloroquine.

  • 1939: Paul Hermann Muller tested the insecticide DDT and won a Nobel prize in 1948 for his work.

  • 1952: Malaria was eliminated in the United States.

  • 1955: Global malaria eradication campaign was launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

  • 1957: Documented the first case of resistance to Chloroquine.

  • 1989: Administration of the antimalarial drug Mefloquine hydrochloride was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was registered by Hoffman-LaRoche.

  • 1998: Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RNM) was launched by UNICEF, UNDP, and WHO.

  • 2005: A target of 80 % coverage was adopted by the World health assembly.

  • 2008: April 28 was adopted as World Malaria Day.

  • 2009: New guidelines on malaria elimination were introduced.

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 heart attack.

  • Fatigue.

  • Muscle or joint pain.

  • Rapid breathing.

  • Yellow skin.

  • Kidney failure.

  • Bloody stool.

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 laboratory 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: Also known as 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.

What Are the Complications of Malaria?

Malaria can be fatal in certain conditions. The complications of malaria are as follows:

  • Cerebral Malaria: When small blood vessels are blocked by parasite-filled blood cells, it leads to swelling and brain damage, called cerebral malaria. It may cause coma and seizure (refers to a sudden uncontrolled disturbance in the brain).

  • Breathing Problem: Can occur due to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

  • Organ Failure: Can occur as a result of malaria that damages the liver, spleen, or kidney and can be life-threatening.

  • Anemia: Occurs when there is not enough oxygen supply in red blood cells.

  • Low Blood Sugar: Also known as hypoglycemia. Very low blood sugar can lead to coma and even death.

What Are The Risk Factors For Malaria?

The following are the risk factors for transmission of malarial parasite:

  • Less use of Insecticide Treated bed Nets and Indoor Residual Spray (IRS).

  • Living in tropical and subtropical areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, Central America, and Northern South America.

  • Presence of multiple stagnant water sites near home.

  • Overnight stay outdoors.

  • People at high risk: young children and infants (as per WHO, 94 % of all malaria deaths occurring in Africa are under 5), elderly, travelers not infected with malaria, pregnant females, and unborn children.

  • Lack of general health awareness in people.

  • Patients with weakened immune systems.

How to Prevent Malaria?

Malaria can be prevented in the following ways:

  • Being careful of the surrounding risk factors if living in a malaria-prone area.

  • Cover the skin by wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tuck in the shirt, and tuck your pant legs into socks.

  • Applying an insect repellent to skin, registered with the Environmental Protection Agency for use on any exposed skin. These include repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE) oil, para-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanoate. Do not use a spray directly on the face.

  • Apply repellent to cloths: sprays containing Permethrin are safe to apply.

  • Bed nets, particularly those treated with insecticides such as Permethrin, help prevent mosquito bites during sleep.

  • If planning a long trip to a region more prone to malaria, consult the doctor for prophylactic medications, which may be taken beforehand to decrease the risk.

  • Although WHO recommends vaccination for infants residing in malaria risk-prone areas, scientists are continuing to develop a vaccine.

Conclusion:

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. Malaria can not be spread from person to person, like a cold or the flu, nor can it be sexually transmitted. Parasites of the genus Plasmodium are the infection source, infecting female mosquitoes of the species Anopheles. Preventive measures against mosquitoes can be effective in dealing with malaria.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

How Often Can Malaria Be Treated in Children?

Babies can be treated with a maximum of four doses of malaria treatment. The first dose contains four tablets in a single dose; the next dose of the same substance is given after eight hours. Four tablets in a single dose can be given twice daily on days two and three.

2.

What Are the Symptoms Caused By Malaria in Children?

The signs and symptoms of malaria in children are
- Chills.
- Fever.
- Headaches.
- Diarrhea.
- General discomfort.
- Abdominal pain.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Muscle and joint pain.

3.

What Is Malaria in Child Health?

Malaria is a severe health complication that can be life-threatening for a child. It is caused by the transmission of parasites from the infected to a healthy person through an infected Anopheles (female) mosquito bite. The disease is very common in children and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

4.

At What Age Can Child Be Treated With Antimalarial Drugs?

Children weighing 35 kg or more than two months of age or older than that can be treated with antimalarial drugs. They are usually treated with half a tablet or a whole tablet of antimalarial drugs.

5.

Can Malaria Be Dangerous for Babies?

Malaria can be very dangerous for babies and young children under five who do not receive adequate treatment for this condition. The disease can affect all age groups, but babies and young children can develop more severe symptoms.

6.

What Is the Treatment of Malaria In Infants?

Infants and newborns with malaria are treated with Chloroquine. They are prescribed 5kg/mg of the drug once a week. Children suffering from severe malaria are usually treated with antimalarial drugs.

7.

What Is the Mortality Rate of Malaria in Children?

Malaria is a severe, life-threatening condition in children and is more common in tropical countries. Malaria accounts for almost 80 percent of deaths in children under five.

8.

Is Fever a Symptom of Malaria in Toddlers?

Yes, fever can be a symptom of malaria in toddlers. Other symptoms include fever, chills, trouble breathing, drowsiness, and irritability. These symptoms are common with malaria.

9.

How Does Malaria Affect Child Development?

Malaria causes suffering and death in children and can also affect their growth and development. In addition, malaria can cause health complications, such as respiratory distress, anemia, cerebral damage, low cognitive development, and malnutrition in children.
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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

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