What is Malaria?
Malaria is a preventable and treatable infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes that kills more than one million people each year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is the leading cause of death for children under five. Because malaria is a global emergency that affects mostly poor women and children, malaria perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty in the developing world. Malaria related-illnesses and mortality cost Africa’s economy alone USD 12 billion per year. However, by 2020, global estimates indicate that USD 6.4 billion would be needed each year to fully fund the fight against malaria.
Malaria symptoms differ depending on the type of malaria. Symptoms to look out for include: headaches, chills, fever, muscle pain, body aches, confusion, drowsiness and delirium.
A malaria blood test is done using a microscope to examine the blood for signs of the malaria parasite* or via malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests that permit reliable detection of malaria infections particularly in remote areas with limited access to good quality microscopy services.
Medication is used for malaria treatment, with Artemisinin Combination Therapy being the recommended first-line treatment. *
If malaria is left untreated, it could result in anemia, jaundice, mental confusion, kidney failure, a coma, seizures and even death.*
Malaria spreads by a mosquito biting a person infected by the malaria parasite and then biting an uninfected person. Female Anopheles mosquitoes spread the Plasmodium parasite through their saliva, which causes malaria.*
Once you are infected with malaria, the parasites move through your blood and infect your liver cells. The liver cells then burst, releasing new parasites which eventually infect your red blood cells*. The drop in red blood cell count from malaria infection produces the symptoms such as jaundice and anemia.
The effects of malaria can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. In severe cases, malaria can result in kidney failure, jaundice, a comatose state, delirium and even death.*
Yes, if left untreated, malaria can kill you.*
Malaria is caused by infection from one of four Plasmodium parasites (P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. vivax) which are transmitted into humans after being bitten by a female mosquito from the Anopheles genus which spread the Plasmodium parasite.*
Once infected by the malaria parasite, symptoms could take seven to 18 days to appear. However, in some cases, symptoms could take up to a year to appear*
If treated, there are not usually long-term effects of malaria. However, long-term neurological effects may occur in cases of extreme cerebral malaria and there are types of malaria that can leave dormant life stages undetected in the liver, which could cause a relapse. But, for the most part, there are no long-term effects of malaria if a patient receives proper treatment.*
Malaria is most common in African countries, as well as countries across Asia and South America. * Transmission depends on climatic conditions that may affect the number and survival of mosquitoes, such as rainfall patterns, temperature and humidity. In many places, transmission is seasonal, with the peak during and just after the rainy season.
Malaria while pregnant can be dangerous. It can cause neonatal mortality, placental parasitaemia, anemia in the mother and the fetus, and low weight at birth. *
Malaria tablets are safe for consumption, however, the tablets can have many side-effects, ranging from nausea and vomiting to dizzy spells and headaches, which is why you should consult your doctor before taking any form of antimalarial tablet. *
You will need to see a medical professional, preferably a doctor who is familiar with your medical history, before taking any of the most widely used antimalarial tablets. These can have varying side-effects and affect people with different health issues differently.*
Despite many decades of intense research and development effort, there is currently no commercially available malaria vaccine. In 2018, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi will pilot the new RTS,S vaccine. It is the first regulator-approved vaccine against the most deadly form of human malaria Plasmodium falciparum, which will be offered for babies and children in high-risk areas as part of real-life trials.
The most common tablets to prevent malaria include: Atovaquone and proguanil (most commonly known by the brand name “Malarone”), Primaquine, Doxycycline, Chloroquine, and Mefloquine.* These are however different from the Artemisinin Combination Therapy used to treat malaria.
The most dangerous malaria parasite is Plasmodium falciparum, which can become fatal within days.*
Malaria is not contagious as it is spread through mosquito bites. * However, extra precautions should be taken to avoid being bitten when sleeping in the vicinity of a malaria patient.
The female mosquitos of the Anopheles genus transmit the Plasmodium parasite which causes malaria. *
There are five types of malaria parasites: Plasmodium falciparum (most common), Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium knowlesi.*
Malaria is not caused by a virus or bacteria, but by a type of parasite known as a Plasmodium. *
Malaria is caused by a Plasmodium and yellow fever is caused by a virus. Although they are both spread by mosquitoes, they are not spread by the same mosquitoes. *
Yes, one of the serious symptoms of malaria is anemia.*
Medical treatment and the use of medication is the most common and successful way to treat malaria.*
Although we cannot know for certain, it is most likely that malaria originated from Africa. * The first recorded human case of malaria was in 2,700 B.C. China.**
The symptoms of malaria can start showing any time between seven days and one year. However, most commonly, symptoms appear between 10 and 30 days.*
Malaria parasite was discovered in Algeria in 1880 by a French army surgeon, Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran. *
The parts of Africa where malaria is most common have a high count of the mosquito responsible for rapid transmission of the disease. Because of the local weather, these transmissions can continue throughout the year. In addition to this, the socio-economic problems and lack of resources in these areas mean that it’s difficult to put effective and efficient measures in place to control the spreading of the disease. *
The parasite which causes malaria requires warm weather, above 20°C, to complete its life cycle in the mosquito. The climate in the tropics is perfect for this.*
The two most common species of human malaria (Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax) require different medicines to be treated and resist certain drugs in unique ways. In addition to this, the disease is caused by a single-cell parasite which can evolve, meaning the human immune system cannot develop a long-term defence against it. Because of these two factors, a working vaccine has yet to be created.*
Carriers of the sickle cell trait have a certain amount of resistance to malaria.*
Although malaria may present similar symptoms to those of flu in the early stages, flu and malaria are completely different. Flu is a virus while malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease.*
Malaria is both prevented and treated with antimalarial medications. Different combinations are used, depending on the type of malaria and the immune system of the person taking the medication.*
Yes. Malaria is found by looking at a blood smear through a microscope and identifying the malaria parasite. *
The life cycle of malaria begins when malaria parasites infects the female Anopheles mosquito and the mosquito bites a human being. The parasite grows and multiplies in the human body (in the liver cells and then red blood cells). The parasites burst the red blood cells, producing more parasites. The human body will now begin showing the symptoms of malaria.*
Yes, jaundice is a symptom of malaria, which would turn your eyes yellow.*
Yes, jaundice is a symptom of malaria, which would turn your skin yellow.*
People who are suffering from malaria should avoid foods which are high in fibre, processed food, junk food, oily and fried foods, spicy foods and pickled foods. They should also stay away from consuming large amounts of caffeine.*
No. A blood test needs to be done in order to determine whether or not a person has malaria.*