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What Is Malaria?

What Is Malaria?

Malaria Disease should not to be taken lightly.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease with symptoms that usually shows 5-16 days after infection.  Malaria is caused by the bites from the female Anopheles mosquito. The female mosquitoes search for a blood meal to nurture their eggs. When bitten, the Anopheles mosquito infects the human body with the parasite Plasmodium. They are the only mosquitoes that can cause malaria. Humidity, ambient temperatures, the host and environment are important factors in the successful development of the parasite. After being bitten by an infected mosquito, the parasite will enter the bloodstream and lodge itself within the liver.

The Plasmodium parasite will multiply itself approximately 10,000 times after which it will enter the bloodstream once again and infect the red blood cells. Some parasites remain in the liver and are released later which will result in recurrence. Uninfected mosquitoes become infected once it feeds on an infected animal or human, therefore repeating the cycle again.

Malaria is preventable and curable. Efforts to reduce malaria burden areas have increased.

There are more than 100 types of Plasmodium parasites which can communicate disease to a diversity of species, with the most common being the following:

  1. P. falciparum. Worldwide. Humid and suburban areas. The infection can multiply rapidly and can stay within blood vessel walls in the brain, which usually causes a hasty onset of severe malaria including cerebral malaria.
  2. P. vivax. Latin America, Africa, and Asia. This infection has a dormant liver phase that can attack the blood after months or years of a person getting bitten. This type causes malaria recurrence in many patients.
  3. P. ovale. Mainly West Africa. Biologically and morphologically comparable to P. vivax. Dissimilar to P. vivax, this infection can affect persons who are negative with the Duffy blood group.
  4. P. malariae. Worldwide. The only human malaria parasite to have a three-day cycle. This infection can lead to chronic infections and nephrotic syndrome if left untreated.
  5. P. knowlesi. Southeast Asia. Connected with Macaques (a type of monkey), this infection has a 24 hour cycle. It multiplies rapidly once an individual is infected which might have fatal consequences if left untreated.

Who is at risk?

Those who are categorized as posing a higher risk of contracting malaria include:

  • Travelers
  • Pregnant women
  • Children under the age of 5 years
  • People with compromised immune system (Cancer, HIV/AIDS)
  • Those finding themselves in mobile populations

Important facts about Malaria:

  • Malaria is transmitted to humans through bites by female infected mosquitoes.
  • These mosquitoes are most active between nightfall and sunrise.
  • Malaria occurs typically in poor, humid and subtropical areas of the world.
  • Malaria was eliminated from the US in the 1950’s however, the mosquitoes that carry and spread the malaria parasite still linger, resulting in constant risk of reintroduction.
  • An estimated 3.4 billion citizens in 106 countries and territories are at risk of malaria.

In a number of malaria-endemic areas, malaria transmission is so concentrated that a great percentage of the inhabitants are infected but not made sick by the parasites. Such carriers have developed a tolerable amount of immunity to guard themselves from malarial disease but they are at risk of malarial infection. In such situations, finding malaria parasites in a sick individual does not automatically mean that the ill health is caused by the parasites.

Malaria is the foremost killer of children under five years old.

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