Things to know
- Malaria is highly common in tropical countries with hot and humid climates.
- Malaria symptoms present differently in each person. The signs and symptoms of malaria can remain in your body for as long as 1 year.
- Common malaria symptoms include fever, chills, muscles and joint pain, nausea and vomiting and fatigue.
- Malaria treatment is a time-sensitive protocol. As late medical intervention can lead to the development of severe health complications
Malaria is a common and serious tropical disease transmitted via mosquitoes. It is a parasitic infection that spreads when a mosquito carrying the said infectious parasite bites a person. A single mosquito bite is enough to transmit the infection.
If not treated timely, malaria can be a life-threatening condition.
Malaria symptoms can occur between 7-30 days after being infected. The signs and symptoms of malaria affect every individual in a different manner and can vary from mild to severe.
Common malaria symptoms include:
- Body ache (muscles ache)
- Chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breathing problems
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid heart rate
- General discomfort in the body
Untreated and undiagnosed malaria can also cause health conditions such as jaundice and anemia.
How is malaria transmitted?
Primarily, malaria causes include the transmission of a single celled parasite of the genus plasmodium. Commonly, female Anopheles mosquitoes carry this parasite. It can be transmitted in varying manners in your body.
Malaria is transmitted through the following cycles:
From an infected mosquito – A mosquito that is carrying the parasite causing malaria can bite you and spread the infection.
In your liver – The parasite that causes malaria can remain in your liver for upto 1 year without causing any symptoms. You may develop malaria symptoms several months later after having the said parasite in your body.
In your bloodstream – The transmission of parasites causing malaria can happen from your bloodstream as well. When the parasites mature, they leave your liver and enter your bloodstream, from where on, they can cause malaria symptoms.
From an uninfected mosquito – Since it is possible to be infected with malaria without displaying symptoms, an uninfected mosquito can bite you and get infected, hence, transmitting malaria to others. An uninfected mosquito can bite you at any time of the cycle and cause transmission of the disease.
Malaria can also be transmitted from mother to fetus or through blood transfusions.
Risk factors of malaria
Malaria causes can affect any individual irrespective of their age and gender. However, the effects of malaria are more likely to be active on some groups than others.
Common risk factors of malaria include:
- Living in or visiting a tropical area
- Being too young or old in age
Complications of malaria
Malaria is a serious infection that requires timely and quick medical intervention. If not treated properly, malaria symptoms can cause a range of health complications including:
- Cerebral malaria
- Liver failure
- Shock (a sudden drop in blood pressure)
- Kidney failure
- Excessive dehydration
- Pulmonary oedema
- Abnormally low blood sugar levels
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Birthing or delivery complications
Malaria is usually diagnosed when a person presents with troubling symptoms. It can be detected via blood tests. Your healthcare provider will offer prompt treatment based on factors such as your age, overall health and severity of symptoms, causes and type of malaria.
Malaria treatment is done via antimalarial medication. Based on your condition, you may receive this medication through tablets or through IV drip.
Your treatment protocol may vary if you are expecting a baby or travelling. Sometimes, malaria is treated as an emergency where care measures include management of symptoms.
Malaria prevention is possible in both cases where you are travelling to or living in a tropical country. Here is what you can do to prevent malaria:
- Before travelling, consult your healthcare provider
- Apply mosquito repellent
- Use mosquito nets on beds
- Close your doors and windows
- Cover your skin and wear long sleeved clothes
- Assess your risk and seek timely medical help