Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The disease is widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions– this includes much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
There are three necessary aspects to the malaria life cycle – a) Anopheles mosquito b) parasite (Plasmodium) c)bite of mosquito over a blood vessel such that parasite reaches the liver to multiply and then to blood cells.
Symptoms that should ring bells in direction of malaria-
- Moderate to severe shaking chills
- High fever
- Nausea and vomiting, and
- General weakness and body aches.
- The classic symptom of malaria is paroxysm—a cyclical occurrence of sudden coldness followed by shivering and then fever and sweating.
How is malaria diagnosed?
- History of recent travel to an endemic area or other possible exposures.
- The definite diagnosis is made by looking at the blood of an infected patient under the microscope (blood smear) and identifying the presence of the parasite. The patients’ blood is prepared under a slide with a specific stain to help identify the parasite
Prevention of malaria-
- Reducing exposure to mosquitoes – Spraying your home , Sleeping under a net , Covering your body, Apply insect repellent to all exposed skin.
- Exposure Prophylaxis – You may be able to prevent malaria by taking medicine before, during, and after travel to an area where malaria is present.
- Taking measures to prevent mosquito breeding – The most effective way every person can combat the threat of mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water, the substance they need to incubate their eggs. By eliminating standing water in an area, you can significantly reduce the mosquito population in just a few weeks.
–Regularly check outdoor pet bowls and the surface of flowerpots and pot saucers for signs of “wigglers” or mosquito larvae
-Throw away bottles, cups, cans and other detritus.
– Almost anything that holds water
-Try spreading environmentally friendly botanical products around such as Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis), which can act as a larvicide , killing mosquitoes before they reach adulthood. Or stock ponds with Gambusia (a fish that feeds on mosquito larvae)
– de- clutter and get rid of junk. Keeping lawns tidy helps keep mosquitoes out. If things start looking bare out there, consider putting in some mosquito-repelling herbs, flowers and plants, including peppermint, lavender, marigolds, chrysanthemums, citronella grass, lemon eucalyptus, pennyroyal and feverfew.
It is highly advisable to keep the above points in mind if you stay in Malaria affected areas or in areas where there are high number of mosquitoes. Malaria is a treatable disease if reported early. It can take a serious turn if not treated on time.