Malaria: 7 Key Things to Know about Malaria Prevention


Malaria: 7 Key Things to Know about Malaria Prevention

The buzzing mosquito menace causes far more damage than just disturbing your sleep. The female mosquito, weighing less than 2 milligrams, has a lethal sting that can make you scratch yourself for hours. And if, to your bad luck, she is infected with a virus, things can get a little serious. The lowly mosquitos have been on the earth for billions of years, and getting rid of them is often difficult. 

A scourge through centuries, malaria has caused the death of more people than plagues and wars combined.1 Despite having spent millions, there still isn't any vaccine against malaria. Knowing about the disease, however, can be helpful in preventing it. Keep reading this article to know more about malaria treatment, symptoms, diagnosis, or which mosquito causes malaria etc. Let’s start!

1. What is Malaria?

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito. She carries malaria-causing pathogens called Plasmodium parasites from one infected person to another. The sting of an infected female anopheles mosquito creates a path for parasites to enter your bloodstream. Once they enter your blood vessels, they mature in the liver within a few days. It starts affecting the body's red blood corpuscles and rapidly divides to cause harm to your whole body. It can be fatal if not treated timely.

2. Is Malaria a Disease?

Yes, malaria is a disease. Malaria is a potentially lethal illness brought on by parasites that are transmitted to people by the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes carrying the disease. The parasites are carried in the saliva of the mosquitoes and enter the bloodstream when the mosquitoes take a blood meal. 

In the bloodstream, the parasites travel to the liver where they mature and release parasites that infect red blood cells, causing symptoms that include fever, chills, and flu.

3. Which Mosquito Causes Malaria?

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused due to parasites, namely Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium Falciparum, Plasmodium Malariae and Plasmodium Ovale. These parasites are transmitted through the infected female Anopheles Mosquitoes.

4. What are the Symptoms of Malaria?

It usually takes two weeks for the disease to produce the symptoms. The most common symptoms of Malaria are listed below:

  • High fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Pain in muscles
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Cough 
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite

Malaria poses serious health risks if left untreated. As the disease worsens, it can lead to anaemia through red blood cell destruction and jaundice. The most dangerous type of malaria is cerebral malaria, where parasites sequester in the brain and might result in coma, thus progressing to death.

5. Malaria: Complications that can Pose Health Threat

Malaria poses grave risks, and without treatment, complications can be lethal.

  • Cerebral Malaria: It occurs when parasites in the blood obstruct small vessels in the brain. This can lead to swelling or injury of the brain tissue. Cerebral malaria potentially results in seizures or coma.
  • Organ Failure: Malaria poses risks to vital organs as it may harm the kidneys and liver or cause the spleen to rupture. All these can be life-threatening  if left untreated.
  • Anemia: By destroying red blood cells, malaria can lead to insufficient oxygen delivery throughout the body, thus causing anaemia.
  • Breathing Problems: The build-up of fluid in the lungs due to pulmonary edema can impair breathing by making it difficult to draw oxygen into the body.
  • Hypoglycemia: Severe malaria and quinine, a common treatment, may sharply lower blood sugar levels, potentially inducing a life-threatening coma or death if blood sugar drops too low.

It is important to note that Malaria could return. The malaria parasite can persist for years and lead to relapses in some cases. These parasites normally cause milder versions of the disease.

6. Malaria Diagnosis

Now that you know malaria is caused by which mosquito and what are the malaria symptoms, it is time to understand what to do if you experience any such symptoms. Go to the doctor immediately for diagnosis. Before proceeding, your doctor will inquire if you have visited any mosquito-bred place recently. After taking your medical history, you can go for a Malaria diagnosis with the help of two tests. 

  • Blood test
  • RDT (Rapid Diagnostic Tests)

Blood Test

Under blood test, your blood samples are taken for the test to count the number of platelets and the quantity of bilirubin in your blood. If the number of platelets is lower and the amount of bilirubin in the blood is higher than the average  level, it is severe Malaria.

RDT (Rapid Diagnostic Tests)

RDT is required if the blood test report reveals variations in platelet and bilirubin count. The blood sample is assessed further to check the presence of proteins called antigens. Plasmodium parasites produce antigens. The test can detect which species of plasmodium parasite is responsible for causing Malaria. 

Thus, both tests are helpful for the doctor to diagnose Malaria and plan treatment.

7. What is the Best Treatment for Malaria?

The treatment of Malaria and the dosage of drugs depend on the severity of the illness. The treatment plan is a combination of antimalarial drugs, including medications to control fever, antiseizure medications, fluids, and electrolytes. The drugs and antibiotics for malaria treatment available include: 

  • Chloroquine
  • Quinine
  • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
  • Artemether and lumefantrine (Coartem)
  • Atovaquone (Mepron)
  • Proguanil (sold as a generic)
  • Mefloquine
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin)
  • Doxycycline

(Note: Medicines names are for information purposes only. We do not advise taking them without consultation with your doctor.)

If it is falciparum malaria, a patient needs to be monitored in the intensive care unit of a hospital for malaria treatment as it can cause breathing failure, coma, and kidney failure. 

Ways to Prevent Malaria

Malaria is curable and preventive too. Here are the ways you can avoid getting mosquito bites and also do malaria prevention:

  • Sleep in a room with a safety net on the windows and doors.
  • Use a mosquito net over your bed.
  • Spray permethrin and use repellent sprays for mosquitoes.
  • Wear light-coloured and long sleeves clothes.
  • Avoid going outdoors without mosquito protection in the evening.
  • Do not allow water to be stored in any container, ground, pits, or pet food bowls.

Following these steps can help greatly in malaria prevention and control.

>>Click Here to Read: How to Prevent Vector-Borne Diseases During Monsoon

Over to You

Hence, it is essential to know how to control malaria to avoid the disease from spreading. The aforementioned measures can be expedient in shielding against malaria.

Additionally, opting for the best health insurance policy is also helpful in management of malaria related hospitalisation expenses. Care Health Insurance brings you an exclusive family health insurance policy that also covers vector-borne diseases like Malaria, Dengue, etc. (subject to policy terms and conditions). To get more information about the policy you can allow our expert to connect with you.

Disclaimers: Underwriting of claims for Malaria is subject to coverage and policy terms & conditions.

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