Malaria is caused by a single-celled parasite Plasmodium. The parasite spreads to humans through the bites of mosquitoes infected with the parasite. People who have malaria usually experience high-grade fever and shaking chills.
Mosquito transmission cycle
- Uninfected mosquito. A mosquito gets infected during feeding on a person who has malaria.
- Transmission of a parasite. This mosquito bites another person and, it can transmit malaria parasites to that individual.
- In the liver. After that parasites enter your body, they reach your liver — where some types of parasites can become dormant for as long as a year.
- Into the bloodstream. When the parasites mature, they move out of the liver and infect your red blood cells RBCs. At this stage, people typically develop malaria symptoms.
- On to the next person. If an uninfected mosquito bites you at this stage in the cycle, it will become infected with your malaria parasites and then it can spread them to the other people it bites.
Other modes of transmission
Because the parasites that cause malaria affect red blood cells (RBCs), people can also catch malaria from exposure to infected blood, including:
- From mother to unborn child
- Through blood transfusions
- By sharing needles used to inject drugs
Symptoms of Malaria
Signs and symptoms of malaria may include:
- General feeling of discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle or joint pain
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
Some people who have malaria experience starting with shivering and chills, followed by a high fever, followed by sweating, and a return to normal temperature. This happens cyclically. Malaria signs and symptoms typically begin within a few weeks after the infected mosquito bite. However, some types of malaria parasites can remain dormant or inactive in your body for up to a year.
Malaria can be life-threatening and fatal, particularly when caused by the Plasmodium species. Malaria deaths are usually related to one or more serious complications, mentioned below:
- Cerebral malaria. If parasite-filled blood cells block small blood vessels in your brain (cerebral malaria), swelling of your brain or brain damage may occur. Cerebral malaria may induce seizures and coma.
- Breathing problems. Fluid accumulated in your lungs (pulmonary edema) makes it difficult to breathe.
- Organ failure. Malaria can harm the kidneys or liver or cause the spleen to rupture. These conditions are life-threatening.
- Malaria may result in inadequate RBCs, that is, not having enough red blood cells for an adequate supply of oxygen to your body’s tissues (anemia).
- Low blood sugar. Severe forms of malaria can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Quinine a common medication used to manage malaria can also cause hypoglycemia,
- Very low blood sugar (severe hypoglycemia) can result in coma or death.
If you live in or are travelling to an area where malaria is common, take action to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquito bites are most common between dusk and dawn. To protect against mosquito bites, you should:
- Cover your skin with appropriate clothing
- Apply insect repellent / mosquito repellent to the skin.
- Apply repellent to clothing also
- Sleep under a bed net.
Before travelling to a location where malaria is common, consult your doctor a few months ahead of time about whether you should take medicine before, during, and after your travel to help protect you from malaria parasites.
In general, the medicines taken to prevent malaria are the same drugs used to treat the disease. What medicine you take depends on where and how long you are travelling and your health.
A simple blood test done at an appropriate time can help you prevent complications. visit IQ Diagnostics to know more about this.