The World Health Organization estimates that in 2013, more than 198 million people were infected with malaria and an estimated 584,000 died as a result of it. Nearly 4 out of 5 casualties were children under five years of age. The disease presents a threat in about a hundred countries and territories throughout the world, putting some 3.2 billion people at risk.
1 WHAT IS MALARIA?
Malaria is a parasitic disease. Its symptoms include fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms may sometimes recur every 48 to 72 hours, depending on the type of parasite involved and how long the person has had the disease.
2 HOW DOES MALARIA SPREAD?
Malaria parasites—protozoans called Plasmodia—are introduced into the human bloodstream through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito.
The parasites find their way into the infected person’s liver cells, where the parasites multiply.
When a liver cell ruptures, it releases the parasites, which then invade the infected person’s red blood cells. There, the parasites continue to multiply.
When a red blood cell ruptures, it releases the parasites, which invade still more red blood cells.
The cycle of red blood cell invasion and rupture continues. The infected person typically manifests symptoms of malaria each time the red blood cells rupture.
3 HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?
If you live in a land where malaria is endemic . . .
Use a bed net or a mosquito net. It should be
treated with insecticide.
free of any holes or tears.
tucked completely under the mattress.
Use indoor residual spraying in your home.
If possible, install screens on doors and windows, and use air-conditioners and fans, which may discourage mosquitoes from settling.
Wear light-colored clothing that fully covers your skin.
Whenever possible, avoid areas of brush, where mosquitoes swarm, and standing water, where they breed.
If you are infected, get treatment promptly.
If you are planning to visit a land where malaria is endemic . . .
Get current information before you travel. The type of malaria parasite common in one region may differ from that in another, and this affects which type of medicine is most effective. Also, it would be wise to speak to your physician about things you need to be aware of with regard to your personal health history.
During your visit, follow the guidelines that are presented in this article for those who live in a land where malaria is endemic.
If you become infected, get prompt treatment. Be aware that symptoms may appear between one and four weeks after infection.