Thursday, January 26, 2017

Know The Deadly Disease Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria has been responsible for much of the human suffering and misery accompanying the process of social and economic development. Only in 2015, 91 countries and areas had ongoing malaria transmission.

According to the latest WHO estimates, released in December 2016, there were 212 million cases of malaria in 2015 and 429 000 deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths. Some 13 countries – mainly in sub-Saharan Africa – account for 76% of malaria cases and 75% deaths globally.

However between 2010 and 2015, malaria incidence among populations at risk (the rate of new cases) fell by 21% globally. In that same period, malaria mortality rates among populations at risk fell by 29% globally among all age groups, and by 35% among children under 5.
Malaria can begin with flu-like symptoms. In the early stages, infection from P. falciparum is similar to infection from P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale. You may have no symptoms or symptoms that are less severe if you are partially immune to malaria.

The time from the initial malaria infection until symptoms appear (incubation period) typically ranges from:2

    9 to 14 days for Plasmodium (P.) falciparum.
    12 to 18 days for P. vivax and P. ovale.
    18 to 40 days for P. malariae.
    11 to 12 days for P. knowlesi.

Symptoms can appear in 7 days. And the time between exposure and signs of illness may sometimes be as long as 8 to 10 months with P. vivax and P. ovale.

Common symptoms of malaria:
1. Fever.
2. Chills.
3. Headache.
4. Sweats.
5. Fatigue.
6. Nausea and vomiting.
7. Dry (nonproductive) cough.
8. Muscle or back pain or both.
9. Enlarged spleen.

Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms:
1. severe anaemia
2. respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis
3. cerebral malaria. In adults
4. multi-organ involvement is also frequent.

In malaria endemic areas, people may develop partial immunity, allowing asymptomatic infections to occur.

Who is at risk?
Some population groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria, and developing severe disease, than others. These include infants, children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and patients with HIV/AIDS, as well as non-immune migrants, mobile populations and travellers.

How To diagnose?
Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission.
Doctors use thick and thin blood smears to find out whether malaria-causing parasites are in your blood.
- A blood smear is prepared from a blood sample.
- If the first blood smear does not show the presence of malaria parasites but your doctor suspects malaria, you should have a repeat test every 8 to 12 hours for 36 hours.
- Liver function tests, to check for liver damage.
- Complete blood count (CBC), to check for anemia or evidence of other possible infections. Anemia sometimes develops in people with malaria, because the parasites damage red blood cells.
- A blood glucose test, to measure the amount of a type of sugar, called glucose, in your blood.

The best available treatment, particularly for P. falciparum malaria, is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).

The most common antimalarial drugs include:
- Chloroquine (Aralen)
- Quinine sulfate (Qualaquin)
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- Mefloquine
- Combination of atovaquone and proguanil (Malarone)

The types of drugs and the length of treatment will vary, depending on:
- Which type of malaria parasite you have
- The severity of your symptoms
- Age
- Whether you're pregnant or not

Prevention Of Malaria:
(1) To prevent breeding of mosquito by application of insecticides and larvicides in their breeding places like stagnant water, bushes etc.

(2) Jungles and bushes around houses should be cleared for preventing mosquitoes to hide and reproduce

(3) The windows and doors of the household should be netted or screened to prevent entry of mosquitoes.

(4) Personal protective measures like reduction of exposure to mosquito bites especially during mosquito feeding times (from dusk to dawn) by using mosquito repellents and mosquito nets preferably impregnated with Pyrethroids, ICON etc. and covering the skin by wearing long clothing, thick socks may be effective.

(5) Individuals should avoid nocturnal outdoor activities as much as possible.

(6) Pregnant women should not travel to Malaria endemic zones especially where chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria is present.

(7) Along with the above measures travellers should receive chemo-prophylaxis before, during and after exposure to the malrious areas of the world. But a single control strategy will not be helpful and individual circumstances require different or combined approach.

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