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The Truth About Malaria

Malaria is a life- threatening mosquito borne blood disease caused by a Plasmodium parasite.

It is transmitted to humans through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. Once an infected mosquito bites a human, the parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells.

SYMPTOMS

Malaria symptoms can be classified into categories: Uncomplicated Malaria and Severe Malaria.

Uncomplicated Malaria

Symptoms progress as follows, through cold, hot and sweating stages

  • Cold stage (Sensation of cold with shivering
  • Hot stage (Fever, headaches and vomiting; Seizures sometimes occur in young children)
  • Sweating stage (Sweats followed by a return to normal temperature with tiredness)

More commonly

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweat
  • Headaches
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Body aches
  • General malaise

Severe Malaria

In severe malaria, clinical and laboratory evidence shows signs of vital organ dysfunction.

Symptoms of severe malaria include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Prostration or adopting a prone position
  • Multiple convulsions
  • Clinical jaundice and evidence of vital organ dysfunction
  • Cerebral malaria, with abnormal behavior, impairment of consciousness, seizures, coma, or other neurologic abnormalities
  • Severe anemia
  • Blood in urine
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Low blood pressure caused by cardiovascular collapse
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Metabolic acidosis (excessive acidity in the blood and tissue fluids), often in association with hypoglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Hypoglycemia may also occur in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria, or after treatment with quinine.

Severe malaria can be fatal without treatment.

Diagnosis & tests

We strongly advise confirmation of the malaria parasite through microscopic laboratory testing before receiving any malaria treatment.

Please also note that there are other symptoms of diseases that are similar to malaria symptoms.

The hospitals are to conduct the test first and only treat malaria if the test results are positive. Not all malaria cases require admission, uncomplicated malaria can be treated but the patient does not necessarily require Admission

Prevention

  • Environmental sanitation
  • Use of insecticide treated net
  • Rationale use of anti-malarial drugs
  • Prophylaxis – Pregnant women, sicklers, expatriates, people from micro-endemic areas.

If you happen to have any of the Malaria symptoms, avoid self-medicating. Ensure you see a doctor.

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