Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by infected female mosquitoes. Sub-Saharan Africa carries the main burden of this disease.
Eighty-eight percent of the malaria cases in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa. Ninety percent of the malaria deaths are also in Africa.
Malaria is preventable and curable. It is caused by plasmodium parasites through anopheles mosquitoes. P falciparum causes the majority of malaria cases in African sub-continent
Malaria usually comes with fever, chills, headache, muscle, or joint pains, and vomiting. Symptoms start seven days after an infected mosquito bite. If not treated carefully, it may progress to severe illness, often leading to death.
Severe malaria usually gives rise to complications like anaemia, cerebral malaria, respiratory distress, and multi-organ involvement, if not treated carefully on time.
Diagnosis is usually made by symptoms and confirmation by blood test. We must do blood tests to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary antimalarial treatments which can cause resistance after some time.
Specific antimalarial treatment should be started as soon as malaria is diagnosed. It may vary from tablets to injections depending on the severity of the disease.. It is essential to complete the prescribed dose of antimalarial and supportive drugs to prevent relapse.
Prevention of malaria is very important.
- You can prevent mosquito bites by using residual indoor spraying.
- Using treated mosquito nets will help to avoid mosquito bites at night.
- Use mosquito repellents when you go out, especially in the evenings and nights.
- Try to cover your body as much as possible when you are outdoors.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts when you go out in the evenings.
- Use malaria prophylactic if you are prone to malaria.
Pregnant ladies, children under five years, and some individuals are very prone to malaria attack.
Preventing mosquito breeding is the most important step in malaria prevention.
- Eliminate standing water in your surroundings.
- Empty, drain, or cover everything which can hold water. Barrels, cans, old tyres, empty bottles, and buckets usually hold standing water around our surroundings.
- Cover the drainage and make sure it is flowing. Standing drainages are one of the main breeding points.
- Repair and prevent plumbing leakages which may be a source for breeding.
- Remove water from the flower pots at least twice in a week.
- Trim your plants and bushes. This is the place where the adult mosquito stays.
- Deposit some fish in the larger bodies of water. They will consume larvae and stop mosquito breeding cycle.
- Use mineral oil or kerosene in stagnant water bodies to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
By Philip Eappen, AUN Clinic