Malaria is one disease that has troubled the human race for quite a long time. Malaria claims over 500,000 diseases annually, with most of those being children below the age of five years. The treatment of malaria has experienced some considerable developments from when it was discovered that the disease was caused by a mosquito. This paper is wholly about malaria. The paper provides a brief history of malaria and then goes on to explain what causes malaria. The paper goes on to very prevalent issues that surround malaria such as malaria in pregnant women and such other things. The treatment for malaria is also provided. On this issue, the paper recommends on the best methods to treat malaria, among the many available. In coming up with all this material, the paper has utilized information from different credible sources. With this regard, referencing has been done accordingly.
The history of malaria spans for a period of hundreds of years. The disease is thought to have first been witnessed in the primates of Africa a very long time ago. It then spread all over the world such that there is no single continent in the world which has not had to deal with malaria. In the early 20th century, a link between malaria and mosquito parasites was established, and treatment of the disease became easier. In the 20th century, malaria was an epidemic in very many countries. The United States, for example, lost more than 6000 soldiers to malaria during the African and south pacific campaigns. To date, however, malaria still claims lives. Pregnant women and children below the age of five years are most prone to this disease, for biological reasons.
Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasites. This parasite is spread to humans mostly through bites from an infected mosquito. There are many types of Plasmodium, but only four are responsible for transmitting malaria. The Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent type of Plasmodium that causes malaria. This plasmodium is mostly dominant in Africa and is responsible for most of the deaths related to malaria. This also explains why Africa is leading in cases of malaria. Of the average of 200 million cases of malaria that are witnessed every year, almost a quarter hails from Africa.
The Plasmodium parasite is mainly spread through bites from the female Anopheles mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are mostly referred to as the night biting mosquitoes due to the reason that they mostly bite between dusk and dawn. If these mosquitoes bite a person who is already infected with the malaria disease, it becomes infected and spreads it to other people when it bites. Malaria can however not be transmitted directly from person to person. It is not waterborne or airborne or transmittable by contact. After a mosquito bite, the parasite gets into the bloodstream. The first place that the parasite invests is the liver. The infection travels to the liver because that is where it develops and grows before entering again into the bloodstream, and consequently invading the red blood cells.
Once in the red blood cells, the parasite grows and multiplies. A pattern is formed whereby at regular intervals, the infected blood cells burst open and release more parasites which in turn infect other red blood cells. The infected blood cells usually burst after every says 24-72 hours. Every time the process of bursting takes place, the patient gets symptoms of sweating, chills or a bout of fever. As more and more red blood cells burst, the body becomes weaker and weaker and more symptoms such as aching of joints begin to show. Few patients with malaria recover without proper treatment.
Malaria symptoms typically develop and begin to show within the first 10-30 days of infection. In some rare cases, often in more resistant individuals, the symptoms of malaria may not show until the first several months are over. Some malaria parasites may also enter the body and remain dormant for long periods of time (Murray 23). In early stages, the symptoms witnessed include; shaking, which ranges from moderate to severe, fever, sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. As the disease develops, more symptoms begin to show. These symptoms include; anemia, diarrhea, muscle pain, bloody stools, Convulsions and finally comas. Very few people recover from malaria-related comas (Murray 56).
Pregnant women are very prone to contacting malaria. In fact, statistics show that pregnant women are three times more likely to develop malaria than other non-pregnant women, considering all other conditions are constant. Infection of malaria during pregnancy has the potential to cause premature deliveries, miscarriages, congenital infections, low birth weight and also perinatal death. The symptoms in pregnant women are the same as the symptoms experienced by other people, only that in pregnant women, they are more adverse. Small children are also very prone to contracting malaria. This is because their immune systems are generally weak as compared to those of other adults.
Accurate and rapid diagnosis of malaria is very important to the treatment of patients suffering from malaria in the community. It is very important especially in the management of the disease. In pregnant women and children, diagnosis is made with more caution. The diagnosis helps prevent the excessive use of antimalarial drugs and also under dosing. Diagnosis also helps health practitioners recommend a preferable treatment for malaria. There are two diagnoses which are mainly used. One is diagnosis based on the symptoms and signs of a disease (Neafsey 90). This one is called clinical diagnosis (Bhatt 89). The second form of diagnosis is the diagnosis based on detection of the parasites that caused the disease. This particular type of diagnosis is less preferred. The first one is the main form of diagnosis used by health practitioners.
Once the diagnosis has been made, treatment comes in. treatment does not consider whether it was clinical or a parasitological method which was used for diagnosis. The patient should be treated with the most appropriate and the safest drug available. The goal should be effective malaria treatment within 24 hours (Bhatt 65). This is because delaying in treating a case on uncomplicated malaria results to a more complicated form of the disease which is associated with extreme fatalities.
For such a disease which has the potential to be severe and very fatal, especially when it is as a result of Plasmodium falciparum, there is definitely a range of possible treatments. Patients who suffer from severe p. falciparum malaria cannot take oral medicine. They are treated by continuous intravenous infusion. Other available drugs for treatment include; atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone), chloroquine, quinine, quinidine and clindamycin (which is used together combination with quinine). Sometimes, health practitioners ask for the patient’s history with malaria and a last drug that had taken in treating the disease. This is so as to come up with the best mode of treatment for specific individuals. Some individuals react better to some drugs and worse to other drugs.
As much as malaria is a treatable disease, prevention is still way much better than cure. Actually, it is estimated that were it not for the preventive measures that people are advised to use, malaria cases on an annual basis would be more than one billion. Considering the fact that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, the primary goal, therefore, becomes protecting people from mosquitoes. With regard to this, it is very important to ensure that our surrounding is not potential habitats for mosquitoes (Manyando 45). This should be done by clearing bushes and stagnant water collections. There are also some plants whose scent is known to repel mosquitoes. People are also advised to sleep under treated mosquito nets in order to protect themselves from mosquito bites at night.
In conclusion, it is important to note that malaria is the single disease that has claimed the most lives in the history of mankind. Therefore, people should be very wary of it. Treatment of malaria has been discovered, and it is ready at the nearest clinical center to the proximity of our homes. The fight against malaria has been hard, but humanity is slowly winning to eradicate the disease. Preventive measures especially have been very helpful. It is important to acknowledge the information provided to us by health practitioners regarding the disease so as to prevent more and more cases of malaria.
Bhatt, Samir, et al. “”The effect of malaria control on Plasmodium falciparum in Africa between 2000 and 2015.”” Nature 526.7572 (2015): 207-211.
Manyando, Christine, Eric M. Njunju, and Umberto D’Alessandro. “”Safety and efficacy of co-trimoxazole for treatment and prevention of Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a systematic review.”” PLos one 8.2 (2013): e56916.
Murray, Christopher JL, et al. “”Global, regional, and national incidence and mortality for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria during 1990“2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.”” The Lancet 384.9947 (2014): 1005-1070.
Neafsey, Daniel E., et al. “”Highly evolvable malaria vectors: the genomes of 16 Anopheles mosquitoes.”” Science 347.6217 (2015): 1258522.
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