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What Is Malaria

What Is Malaria? Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Malaria is a dangerous disease that is majorly found in countries where control over hygiene and especially mosquitos is still considered to be a massive challenge; countries such as Africa, India, Vietnam, etc. The malaria-infected mosquito bites to inject the parasite into the bloodstream of the host, be it a human or animal. The injected parasite then flows through the bloodstream of the host and settles in the liver, making it a ground for its breeding, to get matured and strengthened – as a consequence, the host’s body then starts to show signs and symptoms of malaria.

What is Malaria?

Being a life-threatening disease, Malaria is carried and spread by parasite-infected mosquitoes through bites. As soon as you get bit by the parasite-infected mosquito, their bite injects those deadly parasites into your bloodstream. These parasites are the sole cause for malaria, and not any virus or any sort of bacteria.

Malaria is enlisted among the most deadly diseases, considering the fact that if it goes untreated it can lead to serious health problems such as organ failure, brain damage, trouble breathing, seizures, and death.

What Are The Different Types of Malaria Parasites?

Listed below are the five different species of Plasmodium i.e. single-celled parasites, which are capable of infecting humans and causing severe malaria symptoms:

  • Plasmodium falciparum (or P. falciparum)
  • Plasmodium malariae (or P. malariae)
  • Plasmodium vivax (or P. vivax)
  • Plasmodium ovale (or P. ovale)
  • Plasmodium knowlesi (or P. knowlesi)

What Causes Malaria?

There are five distinct types of malaria parasites that can infect human beings and animals, causing them to get the disease and experience malaria symptoms. Once a mosquito bites a host who is already infected by malaria, this leads to the mosquito getting infected as well. Then in the case where the same mosquito bites another host (human or animal), their bite infects this new host with the parasite as well – This process if repeated, multiplies the parasite.

In scenarios where a woman who is pregnant and gets infected by a parasite gets malaria, this can lead her to pass on this deadly disease to the child as well, either during or before giving birth.

Another possibility of malaria being transferred can be through organ donations, hypodermic needles, or blood transfusions – these are less likely to pass on the disease, but there still is a possibility.

What Are The Most Visible Symptoms of Malaria

The signs and symptoms that one experiences when infected by malaria parasites, are much more severe but quite similar to that of flu/fever symptoms.

Malaria symptoms are inclusive of:

If malaria if left untreated and keeps getting worse, it is capable of causing the infected person to get anemia as well as jaundice.

Who is at Risk for Malaria?

Malaria is a disease that can infect anyone regardless of gender, immunity, or age – However, there is a much higher risk of getting malaria for people who are living in or are visiting the places where the disease is commonly found, due to lack of control over mosquitos. These include the tropical and subtropical regions of:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • South and Southeast Asia
  • Pacific Islands
  • Central America and northern South America

Other than being in an unfortunate geographical location – people who are young, old, or pregnant women are also considered to be at a higher risk of being infected by malaria parasites.

And although this serious health problem is completely treatable, people who are living in poverty and do not have access to appropriate healthcare, are more likely to develop serious complications from this disease.

How Can You Prevent Malaria?

Here is a list of tips that can help you prevent malaria:

  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites when traveling internationally
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants at all times
  • Tuck your shirt and your pant legs into your socks
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellants.
  • Apply insect repellants on all of your clothing
  • Sleep underneath mosquito nets treated with insecticides

How many people die from malaria each year in the US?

The United States have been witnessing a minimum of 2,000 malaria cases every single year. The majority of the people who are infected by malaria parasites in the United States are immigrants and travelers who visited and returned, or are migrating from certain parts of the world where malaria is still a problem and commonly transmitted.

On an annual basis, United States witnesses up to 1,500 malaria cases, which leads to a minimum of 5 deaths.

Malaria Prevention & Treatment in NYC

Malaria is one of those diseases for which patients are highly advised to get the treatment of malaria started as soon as possible. In such cases, the healthcare provider you choose will instantly prescribe you the medications required to eliminate these deadly parasites taking over your body.

As there are certain parasites that have developed resistance towards malaria medications over time, so some of the malaria drugs are prescribed to the infected patients in combination with certain other medications. The type of medication that the patient needs and the duration of how long the medication will be continued, both are determined based on the type of parasite that has caused the disease.

Being able to identify and diagnose malaria during the initial signs, and opting for a preventive approach instead of treating malaria with full-blown symptoms, is an approach that is much safer and more effective.

Experts at Manhattan Medical Arts highly recommend everyone who’s planning to travel, to visit our experienced travel doctors before you leave for your trip, in order to get the required vaccinations, as well as the preventive medications.

Schedule a consultation with our family care doctor or preventative care doctor at Manhattan Medical Arts for evaluation and to develop an in-depth understanding of the prevention and treatment of malaria.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 11/18/2022

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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