Dr Gowri Kulkarni, Head of Medical Operations, MediBuddy
Malaria is a serious disease that is transmitted through the bite of a female anopheles mosquito infected with a parasite from the Plasmodium family. When such a mosquito bites, it induces malarial parasites into the victim’s bloodstream.
Malaria can cause severe health problems such as seizures, brain damage, difficulty breathing, organ failure, and death if not treated. The disease is common in India and has been reported from the country’s eastern and central regions, as well as states with large forests, hilly terrain, and tribal areas. Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and some north-eastern states such as Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram are among these states.
Symptom of Malaria:
Malaria symptoms typically appear between 10 to 30 days after infection. Sometimes, the symptoms of malaria can be mild. Malaria Parasites can live in the body for years without causing any symptoms. Some people do not feel ill for up to a year after being bitten by a mosquito.
It is difficult to recognize malaria symptoms as they are similar to flu symptoms. They are as follows:
- Fever and perspiration.
- Chills that send shivers up and down your spine.
- Muscle aches and headaches
- Chest pain, breathing difficulties, and a cough
- Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Malaria can cause anemia and jaundice as it progresses (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Treatment of Malaria:
Malaria treatment should start as early as possible. Malaria treatment should not begin until the diagnosis has been confirmed by laboratory testing.
To treat malaria, your doctor will recommend medicines that kill the parasite according to the subtype of the plasmodium such as vivax, falciparum and ovale. The type of medication and duration of treatment is determined by the parasite causing your symptoms.
Prevention from Malaria:
If you live in or are visiting a malaria-prone area, take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are most active between the hours of dusk and dawn. You may do the following to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Protect your skin: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Tuck your shirt in and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
- Use an insect repellent on your skin: On any exposed skin, apply an insect repellent. Do not squirt a spray on your face.
- Clothing should be treated with repellent.
- Sleep with bed nets.
It is highly recommended to take extra precautions to prevent mosquito breeding. Take a few preventive measures such as keeping your home clean and discard any containers/ corners that collect water. It’s better safe than sorry.
Additionally, to save tens of thousands of lives, there is a vaccination – RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) that acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. The vaccine significantly reduces malaria and life-threatening severe malaria in children.
On 6 October 2021, WHO recommended widespread use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. The WHO recommendation is based on results from an ongoing malaria vaccine pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 1 million children since 2019. To date, more than 3 million doses have been administered through routine immunization programmes.