Malaria

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Overview

Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species – P. falciparum and P. vivax – pose the greatest threat. P. falciparum is the deadliest malaria parasite and the most prevalent on the African continent. P. vivax is the dominant malaria parasite in most countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The first symptoms – fever, headache and chills – usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite and may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. Left untreated, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness and death within a period of 24 hours.

In 2020, nearly half of the world's population was at risk of malaria. Some population groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria and developing severe disease: infants, children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and patients with HIV/AIDS, as well as people with low immunity moving to areas with intense malaria transmission such as migrant workers, mobile populations and travellers.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of malaria are similar to flu symptoms. They include:

Fever and sweating.

Chills that shake your whole body.

Headache and muscle aches.

Fatigue.

Chest pain, breathing problems and cough.

Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

As malaria gets worse, it can cause anemia and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).

The most severe form of malaria, which may progress to a coma, is known as cerebral malaria. This type represents about 15% of deaths in children and nearly 20% of adult deaths.

Causes

When a mosquito bites someone who has malaria, the mosquito becomes infected. When that mosquito bites someone else, it transfers a parasite to the other person’s bloodstream. There, the parasites multiply. There are five types of malaria parasites that can infect humans.

In rare cases, people who are pregnant and who have malaria can transfer the disease to their children before or during birth.

It’s possible, but unlikely, for malaria to be passed through blood transfusions, organ donations and hypodermic needles.

Risk factors

Known risk factors for malaria include low utilization of Insecticidal Treated bed Nets (ITNs), low utilization of Indoor Residual Spray (IRS), availability of multiple mosquito breeding sites or stagnant water sites near the home, and staying outdoors overnight 

Conclusion. Malaria infection is highly prevalent in children aged between 37 and 59 months old, in Arba Minch “Zuria” district. The proximity of residence to stagnant water and the use of ITNs are the most dominant risk factor for malaria infection.

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Complications

liver failure and jaundice – yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

shock – a sudden drop in blood pressure.

pulmonary oedema – a build-up of fluid in the lungs.

acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

low blood sugar – hypoglycaemia.

kidney failure.

swelling and rupturing of the spleen.

Prevention

Apply mosquito repellent with DEET (diethyltoluamide) to exposed skin.

Drape mosquito netting over beds.

Put screens on windows and doors.

Treat clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags and other fabrics with an insect repellent called permethrin.

Wear long pants and long sleeves to cover your skin.