Malaria: Symptoms, Those at High Risk and Preventive Measures
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a plasmodium parasite, transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The severity of malaria varies based on the species of plasmodium. The different species that exist are;- Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium malariae.
Malaria is the most widespread endemic disease in Cameroon with Plasmodium falciparum (the type of malaria that most often causes severe and life-threatening malaria) being the predominant malaria parasite species. Each year nearly 290 million people are infected with malaria, and more than 400,000 people die of the disease. Cameroon is among the 15 highest burden malaria countries, with 2.7 million reported cases. The Government of Cameroon is said to have made the fight against malaria a priority, with a highlight in the country's Health Sector Strategy.
Signs / Symptoms of Malaria
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle or joint pain.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- General feeling of discomfort.
Modes of Transmission
Good news is, Malaria is not contagious. Usually, people get malaria by being bitten by an infective female Anopheles mosquitoes. Only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person. When a mosquito bites an infected person, a small amount of blood is taken in which contains microscopic malaria parasites. About 1 week later, when the mosquito takes its next blood meal, these parasites mix with the mosquito’s saliva and are injected into the person being bitten.
Because the malaria parasite is found in red blood cells of an infected person, malaria can also be transmitted:
- From mother to unborn child
- Through blood transfusions
- By Organ transplant
- By sharing needles used to inject drugs
People at High Risk
Anyone can get infected, the group of persons most susceptible to the disease are;
- Older adults
- Young children and infants
- Travellers coming from areas with no malaria
- Pregnant women and their unborn children
- Taking antimalarial medication to kill the parasites and prevent becoming ill.
- Keeping mosquitoes from biting you, especially at night
- Sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, using insect repellent, and wearing long-sleeved clothing if out of doors at night.
There are a few over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate some malaria symptoms, but they do not cure the infection or prevent complications.
Try: Pain medication, as recommended by your healthcare provider. Anti-fever medication, as recommended by your healthcare provider.
The World Health Organization has recommended a malaria vaccine for use in children who live in countries with high numbers of malaria cases.