Malaria – still a real threat 21st August 2023 – Tags: , , , ,

What is malaria?

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by parasites in the insects’ bodies. It is a serious disease and sometimes fatal. The exact species of mosquito that is involved in the infection process is Anopheles. The disease begins with the bite of a mosquito carrier, which, together with a puncture of the skin, transfers parasites – protozoa – malaria parasites into the blood. The most dangerous parasite is Plasmodium falciparum, which causes tropical malaria. This protozoan is the cause of most deaths due to this disease. One of the stages in the development cycle of this protozoan is getting inside the liver cells, where the erythrocytes are then attacked, which burst releasing a large number of parasites. Due to this process, serious threats to the body such as anemia are possible.

What is malaria
What is malaria

The graphic above shows the development cycle of the malaria parasite, in which humans also play an important role.

Symptoms of infection:

There are two types of malaria – mild malaria and severe malaria.
Symptoms of mild malaria:

  • Feeling cold with fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tiredness

Symptoms of severe malaria:

  • Severe anemia
  • Low pressure
  • Urine hemoglobin content
  • Cerebral malaria with abnormal behavior, altered consciousness, seizures, coma or other neurological abnormalities
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Hyperparasitemia, in which more than 5% of red blood cells are infected with malaria parasites
  • Metabolic acidosis

The appearance of symptoms suggestive of severe malaria indicates prompt medical intervention.

In the photo under the microscope, you can see the penetration of the malaria parasite into the erythrocytes. One of the effects of this process is the appearance of hemoglobin in the urine and anemia.

Malaria Parasite
Malaria Parasite

How to prevent mosquito bites?

One of the most important means of protection against mosquitoes is insect repellent. Most often, they contain fragrance compounds that repel mosquitoes. These compounds are most often: eucalyprus oil, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, cinnamon oil, peppermint oil and basil or thyme oil. Another means of protection is wearing appropriate clothes and securing the place of stay. It is worth getting clothes that cover the exposed areas of our body, hats and shoes. In addition, it is worth securing your place of residence with a protective net.

The picture shows a social campaign showing how important it is to protect your accommodation with a mosquito net.

How to prevent mosquito bites
How to prevent mosquito bites

Disease detection:

A quick and accurate diagnosis of malaria is paramount in treating patients and preventing further spread of infection. Infection with the disease can be detected by microscopic examination, serological tests, PCR and drug resistance tests.

The graphic above shows the tests performed to detect the appearance of the disease.
The graphic above shows the tests performed to detect the appearance of the disease.

Travel advice:

If you decide to travel abroad to countries where there is a risk of malaria, you should follow the advice below:

  • Make sure there is still a chance of getting sick in the area
  • Assess the risks of your trip on a case-by-case basis
  • Choose the appropriate malaria prevention measures listed above
  • Remember what symptoms may indicate a given disease
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