What is malaria?
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented. There are about 6,500 cases of Malaria in the Philippines last 2014. 12 cases of which resulted in death.
Usually, people get malaria by being bitten by an infective female Anopheles mosquito. 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 through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or the shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood. Malaria may also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn infant before or during delivery ("congenital" malaria).
Malaria is not spread from person to person like a cold or the flu, and it cannot be sexually transmitted. You cannot get malaria from casual contact with malaria-infected people, such as sitting next to someone who has malaria.
Symptoms of malaria includes:
1. fever 2. shaking chills
3. headache 4. muscle aches
5. weakness 5. Nausea
6. vomiting 7. diarrhea
Malaria may also cause anemia and jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin and eyes) because of the loss of red blood cells. If not promptly treated, the infection can become severe and may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and even death.
For most people, symptoms begin 10 days to 4 weeks after infection, although a person may feel ill as early as 7 days or as late as 1 year later. Some parasites can remain dormant in the liver for several months up to about 4 years after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. When these parasites come out of hibernation and begin invading red blood cells ("relapse"), the person will become sick.
The disease should be treated early in its course, before it becomes serious and life-threatening. Several good antimalarial drugs are available, and should be taken early on. The most important step to think about malaria if you are presently in, or have recently been in, an area with malaria, is to consult a healthcare provider and be treated right away. Malaria can be cured with prescription drugs. The type of drugs and length of treatment depend on the type of malaria, where the person was infected, their age, whether they are pregnant, and how sick they are at the start of treatment.
You and your family can most effectively prevent malaria by taking all three of these important measures:
Taking antimalarial medication to kill the parasites and prevent becoming ill
Keeping mosquitoes from biting you, especially at night
Sleeping under bed nets (Kulambo), using insect repellent, and wearing long-sleeved clothing if out doors at night.