If you are in India, the word malaria is rather common to hear and you probably have suffered from it or know people affected by the disease. According to statistics, close to one million people suffer from malaria every year in India. The disease that spreads from a mosquito bite can be fatal too in severe cases and according to World Health Organization, nearly four lakh people die of malaria every year in the world. We earlier told you about top tips to prevent malaria and now, we tell you everything you need to know about this disease as we mark World Malaria Day on April 25.

What is malaria?

Malaria is a disease that is caused by a mosquito bite. It is quite common in tropical countries including India and the number of cases rises during the rains when the mosquitoes also multiply quickly. This year, WHO’s theme for World Malaria Day is ‘End Malaria for Good’, an initiative to lessen the number of malaria cases. The disease that is caused by a parasite is still prevalent in India. Here’s everything you need to know about malaria.

What are the causes of malaria?

Malaria is primarily caused by mosquitoes. It is caused by the plasmodium parasite that the female anopheles mosquito carries. When this mosquito bites or stings you, the parasite is transferred in your bloodstream. It then goes to your liver where the infection develops and then re-enters your bloodstream. The parasite grows in the red blood cells and soon these cells burst that release more parasites into your blood. When the cells burst, usually after 48 to 72 hours, you are bound to have fever and chills.

Malaria can also be caused when the mosquito bites an infected animal or person and then bites you as it transfers the parasite from the infected person into your blood. It is very rare that malaria is caused from one person to the other directly however infected needles and blood transfusion carry this risk. Even pregnant mothers can pass on malaria to their fetus during pregnancy so it is imperative that they take preventive measures to stay away from malaria.

What are the symptoms of malaria?

There are several symptoms that can tell you that you are suffering from malaria. However, it is best to get a blood test done to make sure it is in fact malaria and not something else. Typically, a doctor will begin treatment of malaria if they see the patient displaying common symptoms of the disease. Sometimes, it takes time for the parasite to show up in the blood test and so a repeat blood test is done after 12 hours to check if the parasite is present. Here are the common symptoms associated with malaria.

The patient is likely to suffer from:

Fever

Shivering

Sweating

Chills

Fatigue

Headache

Nausea

They may also have pain in their muscles and their heart rate may go up. But not that not all patients will display all the symptoms but if even some of these persist, visit a doctor and get a blood test done. It is best to get treated at the earliest.

What is the treatment of malaria?

It takes about two weeks to recover from malaria but it can vary if the case is a severe one. The common drugs used for the treatment of malaria include Chloroquine, Mefloquine, Quinine sulphate among others. Over time, the treatment options change as the mosquitoes become resistant to a few drugs. Primaquine is also advised by doctors for patients to prevent a relapse of malaria. However, its dosage has to be monitored. Do not self-treat at home, if you see symptoms of malaria, head to the hospital and get treated for it.

Photograph: Shutterstock

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