Malaria Causes Treatment

Malaria: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Malaria is an infectious disease spread from one person to another due to mosquito bites. It is caused by parasites, which infect the mosquitoes. The disease, also known as Jungle Fever is characterized by high fever as well as shaking chills. So, it makes people sick. It is one of the contagious diseases affecting more than two hundred million people. Among the infected more than four lakh people due to the disease. It is prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries. So, it affects people living in African countries. Especially, the disease affects young children. The condition is not common in temperate climates. The disease needs immediate medical intervention. With prompt medical care and support, it becomes easy to avoid severe complications.

World Health Organization (WHO) has developed several steps to reduce the incidence of jungle fever. Officials distribute bed nets to protect people from mosquitoes while they sleep. While no effective vaccination is available for the condition, scientists from around the world are working towards it. Since you have no vaccination to protect you from the disease, take necessary precautions while traveling to another country. Talk to your doctor and follow the instructions suggested by the doctor during and after the trip. You need to maintain caution as several parasites triggering the condition are resistant to the common drugs to treat the disease.

Symptoms Of Malaria

MalariaMost people around the world suffer from the condition when they travel to parts of the world where jungle fever transmission occurs. So, it is common when travelers or immigrants return from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. People with little or no immunity can suffer from the problem. So, apart from travelers, it develops in pregnant women and young children. The signs usually start within a few weeks after getting exposed to an infected mosquito. While some people can experience the signs within weeks of suffering from a mosquito bite, others can experience it after years. It is because the specific parasite remains dormant for years. People suffering from malaria can suffer from different signs and symptoms like:

In some cases, people suffering from jungle fever can experience malaria attacks. The attacks usually start with chills and shivering. It progresses to high fever as well as sweating. After that, you return to normal temperature.

See A Doctor For Evaluation

People who suffer from fever while traveling to a high-risk location need to talk to a doctor. In some cases, the parasite causing malaria can remain dormant in the body for a year. So, you can see the signs after a year of suffering from the infection. Explain it to your doctor for ensuring better care. If you experience severe symptoms, get immediate medical attention.

Causes Of Malaria

Microscopic parasites coming under the Plasmodium genus cause the disease. The parasite enters the human body, commonly through infected female Anopheles mosquito. You can find more than a hundred varieties of micro-organisms of the Plasmodium genus. Many of them are dangerous to your health. So, how does it transmit? Read below to know the cycle:

Mosquito Transmission Cycle

Mosquito Transmission Cycle

First, an uninfected mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person suffering from malaria. Next, the infected mosquito bites a normal person in the future. So, it transmits the parasites to an unaffected human. The parasite enters the body through the bloodstream and attacks the liver. The parasite grows in the liver cells and multiplies. It then leaves the liver after the parasites mature and start infecting the red blood cells. The parasites releases merozoites (daughter parasites). At this point, a person starts showing the symptoms associated with the condition. A person who shows signs of jungle fever can now pass the infection when an uninfected mosquito bites them. The disease spreads to other people through mosquito bites. So, the cycle continues and the mosquito spreads the disease to other people.

Other Transmission Modes

Since jungle fever affects a person’s red blood cells, an uninfected person can catch the condition with exposure to infected blood. It can occur in the following ways:

  • From a pregnant mother to the unborn child
  • By sharing needles with an infected person (while injecting drugs)
  • Through blood transfusions

Contagious Nature Of Malaria

Jungle fever is not contagious as it is a mosquito-borne disease. It only spreads from one person to another during pregnancy or other circumstances discussed above. Else, the condition does not occur due to sharing personal items or coming in contact with infected body fluids. The person-to-person transmission occurs rarely. So, it is not contagious.

Incubation Period For Malaria

When will you see the symptoms associated with the parasite infection? Following the mosquito bite, you can see the signs appear within seven to thirty days. The period from exposure to appearance of symptoms is known as the incubation period. For P. vivax, the signs appear within ten to seventeen days. But, in some people, the parasite stays dormant. So, it can take from one to thirty years to see the symptoms. While other species of parasites of the Plasmodium genus have the same incubation period as P. vivax, P. falciparum has a short incubation period of ten to fourteen days.

Risk Factors Associated With Malaria

People who travel or live in areas where jungle fever is common can experience the condition. Different varieties of malaria parasites can trigger the condition. Plasmodium genus of parasite cause jungle fever. While you can find several species of the genus, only five can trigger problems. They infect humans and lead to malaria. The major varieties of triggering complications include:

Plasmodium falciparum

If you visit tropical or subtropical areas, then you face the risk of infection from Plasmodium falciparum. It causes death due to the severe form of jungle fever in people living or visiting the area.

P. vivax

P. vivax

People who visit or live in Latin America and Asia face the risk of infection from P. vivax. The parasite can lie dormant in your body and cause relapses.

P. ovale

P. ovale

The parasite genus is common in the Pacific islands and African countries.

P. malariae

P. malariae

It is the palariaearasite genus affecting people around the world. You can find it worldwide. It triggers chronic infection in people it affects.

P. knowlesi

The genus of the parasite can cause the progression of an uncomplicated case of jungle fever to a severe infection causing serious complications. You can come in contact with the genus throughout Southeast Asia.

Risk Of Severe Disease

While the specific genus of the parasite can infect everyone, some people face more risk of the disease compared to others. The people at risk of serious disease include:

  • Infants and young children
  • Older adults with a weak immune system
  • Pregnant women and their unborn child
  • Poverty
  • Little or no access to adequate health care facilities
  • Lack of knowledge

The above-mentioned people face the risk of developing malaria, which results in deaths.

Waning Of Immunity

Residents of the jungle fever affected region can get exposed to the disease several times. Frequent exposure can lead to the gaining of partial immunity to the disease. It can reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with the disease. But, the acquired immunity wanes when you move to a country with no exposure to the parasite. So, immigrants who have waned immunity can suffer from the problem.

Complications Associated With Malaria

You can face fatal complications due to jungle fever, particularly the ones caused by parasites found in the tropical parts of Africa. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) provides an alarming report indicating the high death rates (91%) in people affected by jungle fever in Africa. It occurs commonly in children under the age of five. Children who die due to the disease can suffer from one or more serious complications like:

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 cause seizures and coma.

Breathing Problems

Breathing Problems

Jungle fever can result in the accumulation of fluid in the lungs, also known as pulmonary edema. It makes it difficult to breathe.

Organ Failure

Jungle fever can cause several vital organs in your body to fail. So, you can face life-threatening conditions due to kidney failure, liver damage or spleen rupture.

Anemia

Jungle fever can damage the red blood cells in your body. So, it can lead to developing anemia.

Low Blood Sugar

Severe forms of the disease can trigger hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia. In some cases, the medication, quinine, used to combat the disease can lower blood pressure. So, it can lead to coma or death.

Recurrence Of Malaria

Some varieties of the parasite causing jungle fever can remain in your body. It occurs in milder forms of the disease. So, the parasite remaining dormant in the body can cause relapses.

Diagnosing Malaria

Jungle fever can spread the infection to others quickly. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment in time to ensure it does not infect others. It is a potential medical emergency. So, healthcare workers treat it with the same seriousness. Delayed diagnosis can lead to waiting time in getting treatment. It leads to death in several cases. When you see the symptoms associated with the condition, consult a doctor. The doctor suggests the following to derive at a conclusion:

Physical Assessment

Your doctor checks the signs suffered by performing a physical assessment. During the examination, the doctor asks about your travel history. Based on the findings of your physical assessment and travel history, the doctor can suggest blood tests. It is because definitive diagnosis is possible when laboratory tests can conclusively detect the parasites or their components in blood.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can only determine the presence of the parasite triggering jungle fever. So, your doctor can order the following blood tests to detect the following:

The common blood tests available to conclusively detect the problem are:

Microscopic Diagnosis

It is the most common blood test used to detect jungle fever conclusively. The blood specimen is stained (with Giemsa stain) and examined under a microscope. The use of stain provides the parasite a distinctive appearance. So, with just a drop of blood, the lab technicians can detect the issue.

Antigen Detection

In places with no access to the lab for testing, antigen detection can help detect the problem. Several kits are available to detect the antigen formed due to the jungle fever parasites. RDTs (Rapid Detection Tests) are the ideal alternatives to microscopic diagnosis when the latter is not available.

Molecular Diagnosis

It is a more sensitive test compared to smear microscopy. The nucleic acids of the parasite are detected using PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction). It is not suggested in a regular clinical setting as it takes several days to get the results.

Drug Resistance Tests

It is a specialized test detecting the drug resistance of the parasites. So, it assesses the parasite’s vulnerability to antimalarial compounds. Two different laboratory methods are available to check the issue:

In Vitro Tests

The sample blood is cultured in the laboratory. So, the parasite is grown in the presence of high drug concentration. The drug concentration causing the end of parasite growth can reveal the endpoint.

Molecular Characterization

The resistance to drugs is also detected by assessing the molecular markers using gene sequencing or PCR.

After detecting the presence, type, and drug resistance of the parasite causing malaria, your doctor develops a treatment plan.

Treatment For Malaria

Your doctor prescribes drugs to kill the parasite. The prescription medication can eliminate the parasite triggering the condition. Jungle fever is a potentially fatal condition when you fail to seek treatment. So, you need prompt medical care. The type of drug suggested and the duration you need to take the medication depends on the following factors:

  • The specific type of malaria parasite infecting your body
  • Symptoms and its severity
  • The patient’s age
  • If or not you are pregnant

Medication For Treating Malaria

Your doctor prescribes drugs to eliminate the parasite triggering jungle fever. The common antimalarial drugs used for treating include:

ACTs (Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies)

It is the first line of treatment used to treat jungle fever. The drug is derived from Artemisia annua. The plant is commonly known as wormwood. It is helpful in reducing the concentration of the parasite in the bloodstream causing malaria. ACT can reduce the parasite concentration in the blood within three days of the infection. Different types of ACTs are available:

  • Artesunate-amodiaquine
  • artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem)

Each ACT has two or more combinations of drugs. It aims to work against the parasite triggering the condition in different ways.

Chloroquine Phosphate

It is the ideal treatment for any type of parasite showing sensitivity to the drug. Unfortunately, the parasites in many parts of the world show resistance to the drug. Therefore, it is no longer suggested as the treatment for jungle fever.

Other Antimalarial Drugs

  • Mefloquine
  • A combination of proguanil and atovaquone
  • Primaquine phosphate

Possible Future Treatments

Scientists around the world are working towards developing new antimalarial drugs. The treatment for the parasite infection faces challenges due to the evolution of new species of parasites (drug-resistant). So, studies focus on new drug formation to eliminate the parasite. It is because one specific variety of the parasite has shown resistance to all available types of antimalarial drugs.

Preventing Malaria

You are at risk of contracting the disease when you travel to a location where malaria is common. So, you need to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. Remember, mosquitoes causing the condition are active just before dawn and right after dusk. To protect yourself from Anopheles mosquitoes, you have to follow the steps suggested below:

Cover Your Skin

When you go out, try to cover your skin as much as possible. So, wear a long-sleeved dress and full pants. It will protect your skin from mosquito bites.

Stay In Air-Conditioned Room

Mosquitoes cannot dwell in cool temperatures. So, when you travel, try to stay in an air-conditioned room. If you are camping, then try not to stay near stagnant water. Also, check the risk of jungle fever in the region or country you visit

Use Preventive Tools

Mosquito repellent spray
Source:Amazon.com

You need to ensure access to preventive tools. Access all the products online at platforms like Amazon. Get your hands on the following:

  • Mosquito repellent spray containing DEET
  • Sprays containing DEET can be used on skin and sprays containing permethrin are safe to apply to your clothing.
  • Use bed nets while sleeping. It can keep away the mosquitoes from biting you by forming a physical barrier. So, you can sleep peacefully. Try to use bed nets sprayed with insecticide for enhanced results.

Preventive Medicine

For people traveling abroad, it is ideal to talk to the doctor for tips to prevent the condition. So, if you are traveling to a location where jungle fever is common, obtain the following information:

  • The medication needed to prevent the infection in the specific region.
  • Get antimalarial drugs of high-quality to prevent buying of low-quality, fake drugs that cause only adverse effects.
  • Avoid any risky situation exposing you to mosquito bites causing the condition.
  • Think about other travelers in your group as well as their risks. So, you need to think about individual people like older people, pregnant women, children and other people with an existing health condition.
  • Become aware of the different signs associated with the condition. It helps take necessary steps to overcome the condition promptly.

No Malaria Vaccination

Currently, no vaccination is approved by the WHO for preventing jungle fever (one vaccine is licensed in Europe). An approved vaccine, RTS, S (mosquirix) is available. Unfortunately, it has low efficacy. So, it is not recommended by the WHO. But, scientists around the world involved in studies to develop an effective and safe vaccine to prevent malaria.

Conclusion

Malaria is a widespread disease affecting people living in the tropics and subtropics region. So, it affects people living in South and Central America, South Asia, Africa. The disease affects more than six hundred million people and kills around three million people. Therefore, jungle fever is a public-health problem. It only takes a mosquito bite to suffer from the parasite infection. With prompt medical intervention, you can deal with the condition without any complications. People traveling to areas with the huge risk of the infection, you need to take safety precautions. With effective preventive steps, you can manage the conditions without severe complications.

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