25th of April is when the world marks Malaria Day, and this year’s theme being ‘Zero Malaria starts with me’, we share important facts around this mosquito-borne disease to help you manage it better.
As preventable and as curable as it is, Malaria is still globally recognized as one of the most prevalent life-threatening diseases. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) cites that in 2017 alone, 219 Million cases were reported from 87 countries resulting in 435,000 deaths the same year. It is transmitted through bites from female anopheles’ mosquitoes and transmission is most rapid during high rainfall, high temperature and humid conditions.
On its onset, it initially feels like a severe flu. Malaria is an acute febrile illness, meaning that the fever that one experiences on its onset is a result of the body raising its temperatures as a defense mechanism to kill the Malaria causing parasite- plasmodium. This explains the sharp headache and body chills.
As it progresses, you realize a loss in appetite, weak joints and dehydration from excessive sweating.
When left untreated, Malaria frequently develops into severe anemia, which explains the paleness in skin and nail color, respiratory difficulties such as strained breathing and chest pains, and eventually brain (Cerebral Malaria) and organ damage, which inevitably results in the loss of life.
The most efficient prevention method as observed over the years in sub-Saharan Africa where most Malaria deaths have been reported, is the use of Insecticide treated mosquito nets.
This doubles your protection in the sense that it creates both a physical barrier and providing an insecticidal effect that keeps mosquitos and other bugs from invading your sleeping haven.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 50% of all the people at risk of infection in Africa were protected as compared to 29% in 2010, significantly reducing reported cases in hospitals.
Anti-malarial medicine also plays a huge role in keeping the disease at bay.
These are mostly recommended for travelers as the change in climatic conditions significantly puts the body at heightened vulnerability.
The drugs are also administered to pregnant women during each antenatal visit after the first trimester to strengthen both her immunity as well as that of her unborn child from the disease.
Scientists are still yet to develop a full-on protection malaria vaccine.
The best thing you can do is seek medical assistance as soon as symptoms begin to manifest in your body. Get diagnosed through parasite-based diagnostic testing and have the best available medication administered to you. Early diagnosis and treatment helps mitigate the disease, reduces the risk of transmission and prevents death.
Take ownership of eliminating Malaria from your community by observing preventive practices and providing proper care and treatment to those in need.0