- Clinical features
According to WHO, malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people via the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
The severity depends on the plasmodium species involved.
Although preventable and curable, it’s a major cause of death if left untreated, especially in under 5 children.
Its transmission is dependent on climatic conditions, with peaks during and after the rainy seasons.
There are 5 species of parasites that cause malaria in humans.
P. falciparum is the most prevalent and deadliest.
The rest are P. vivax, P. ovale, P. knowlesi and P. malariae.
Symptoms are individualized but the most common features include;
- Body aches
- Chills and rigors
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Early diagnosis and treatment reduce the disease burden, reduce transmission, and death.
Malaria confirmation is done using parasite-based diagnostic testing, which is either via microscopy or rapid diagnostic testing.
According to WHO, the primary objective of treatment is to ensure the rapid and full elimination of plasmodium parasites from a patient’s bloodstream to prevent the progression of uncomplicated malaria to severe malaria.
Artemisinin-based combination therapy is the mainstay of treatment.
Preventive Measures include;
- Vector Control
- Environmental sanitation includes clearing surrounding bushes, keeping the environment neat and tidy, avoiding stagnant water in or around the house, proper disposal of solid waste, etc.
- Use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and repellants.
- Wear clothes that reduce skin exposure to bites.
- Preventive chemotherapy – includes chemoprophylaxis, intermittent preventive treatment of infants and pregnant women, and seasonal malaria chemoprevention.
- Vaccines are underway.