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Malaria – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Malaria, otherwise known as dab or fever, is a tropical disease caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Malaria for many years is considered one of the most dangerous diseases that parasites transmit to humans. Infection with the parasite occurs when an infected female Anopheles mosquito, otherwise known as “malaria vectors”, bites. There are 5 species of parasites in the world that cause malaria:
  • mobile plasmodium (Plasmodium vivax) – one of the most diverse
  • banded plague (Plasmodium malariee)
  • sickle cell plague (Plasmodium falciparum) – one of the most dangerous
  • plasmodium ovale (Plasmodium ovale)
  • monkey plague (Plasmodium knowlesi)
Malaria: mosquito

FUN FACT: In 1921-1925, about 16,000 cases of malaria were diagnosed. In the years 1921-1926, the first attempt to combat malaria in Poland was made. In 1938, thanks to attempts to combat malaria, only 316 cases of this disease, caused mainly by P. vivax, were registered.

The Causes of Malaria and the Anopheles Family

Malaria, which is caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium and has its intermediate hosts, i.e. mosquitoes. The highest records of people suffering from malaria are in latitudes with insects. For a human disease to occur, the mosquito must first be affected. There must be a differentiation and fertilization of parasites, which enter the human bloodstream only in saliva. More precisely, an insect with saliva introduces a parasite into our body, which travels to the liver, where it transforms and multiplies.

It is also worth adding that the Anopheles family consists of about 400 different species, 30 of which are malaria vectors or, in other words, females. The mosquitoes lay their eggs in the water, and then the larvae hatch from the eggs. Ultimately, they become adult mosquitoes that need a diverse environment to live in.

Malaria symptoms

Malaria cannot be noticed in the first days because the symptoms are not present until 7–14 days for the sickle-shaped parasite, 7–30 days for the banded parasite, and 8–14 days for the mobile and oval plague. The first symptoms are very often underestimated and confused with the common flu, e.g .:

profuse sweating
high fever – recurrent (attacks every 24/48/72 hours)
chills
diarrhea
nausea
vomiting
body weakness
feeling of general fatigue
headaches
muscle aches

Unfortunately, ignoring symptoms and not treating malaria can have drastic consequences for the health of a given patient. The most common effects of severe malaria include: coma, mental disorders, damage to internal organs and even death.

How to properly treat malaria?

If a patient manages to develop the symptoms listed above in the first days of a malaria attack, doctors are often able to heal the person by using one or more of the following methods:

primaquine, pyrimethamine – the number of doses here is about 7-14 and lasts 7 days. Killing the parasite form of schizonts in the tissues of gametocytes. Side effects: depression, anemia.
chloroquine – the number of doses is approximately 3 and lasts 48 hours. Killing the form of the schitosis plague. Side effects: itching, dizziness.
quinine – the number of doses is approximately 21 and lasts 7 days. Killing the form of the schitosis plague. Side effects: tinnitus, dizziness, fever.
artesunate + amodiaquine – the number of doses is approximately 3 and lasts 48 hours. Killing the form of schitosis and gametocytes.

Mefloquine is considered to be the most effective drug, but it causes numerous side effects.

For patients, doctors also prepare supportive and symptomatic treatments:

– anticonvulsants

– antipyretic drugs

– drip irrigation

Each patient is treated individually, which results from the specificity of malaria, the body and the immune system. In very severe cases, the best option is to go to a center where there are a number of specialists dealing with the treatment of tropical diseases, e.g. in Warsaw or Gdynia. Often times, doctors decide to treat an infected patient for malaria through renal dialysis or blood transfusion.

In the case of the disease caused by the band parasite, three pathogenetic mechanisms were found:

tissue hypoxia;
activation of cytokines: TNF, IL-1, IL-6;
red blood cell sequestration.

It is also worth adding that malaria, like any other disease, has many complications, in malaria they are divided into two groups:

LATE:

nephrotic syndrome
endocardial fibrosis
burkitt lymphoma

EARLY:

lung failure
disruption of the blood system
hypoglycemia
kidney failure
anemia
shock

INTEREST: Laboratory tests in patients with symptomatic malaria show an increase in the activity of transaminases, proteinuria, urobilinogenuria, an increase in plasma LDH, an increase in the concentration of sorbitol and Na + ions.

How can I prevent malaria?

Despite the rapid development of medicine, there is no vaccine to protect us against malaria, but by taking precautions we can prevent the disease. Numerous research teams have been working to obtain an effective vaccine against malaria for many years. Due to certain features of the life cycle of the plague (mainly its intracellular development), obtaining such a vaccine is faced with various difficulties and is still not used as the most effective preventive method.

If you are planning a trip to exotic places, a good solution is to install a mosquito net on windows or balcony doors. Buying a hat with a mosquito net is also able to prevent and mosquito repellent, but one that contains a minimum of 30% DEET

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