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Malaria

 

Malaria also known as plasmodium infection is a life threatening disease caused by plasmodium parasite and transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes.

Causes of malaria

You get malaria when an infected mosquito with parasites transfers the parasite to you. Malaria is only spread when an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a person, this is the only type of mosquito that spreads malaria. When it bites another person, that person becomes infected too.

Symptoms of malaria

Malaria symptoms are sometimes similar to those of many other infection caused by parasites, bacteria or viruses in early stages. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Generally feeling ill

Types of malaria

They are five types of malaria parasites which includes:

  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Plasmodium malaria
  • Plasmodiumvivax
  • Plasmodium ovale
  • Plasmodium knowlesi

Falciparum malaria is life threatening by which patients with severe falciparum malaria may develop kidney and liver failures, coma and convulsions. Plasmodium ovale and plasmodium vivax(P.vivax) causes less serious illness although the parasites can remain dormant for many months in the liver causing symptoms reappearance months or even years later.

Treatment

Malaria treatment eliminates the plasmodium parasite from the bloodstream. People without symptoms may be treated as well so as to reduce the risk of disease transmission in the nearby population. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a treatment known as Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) which treats uncomplicated malaria. Artemisininrapidly reduces the concentration of plasmodium parasites in the bloodstream. In places where malaria is resistant to ACT, the treatment must contain an effective drug partner.

ACT reduces the number of parasites in a three day period while the other partner drugs eliminate the rest. Although access to ACT treatment worldwide has helped reduce the impact of malaria, the disease is increasingly becoming resistant to the effects of ACT.

Malaria prevention

Preventing malaria is based on two complimentary methods:

  • Chemoprophylaxis
  • Prevention from mosquito bites

Chemoprophylaxis isthe use of drugs for disease preventions. The choice of drugs for chemoprophylaxis depends on the travel destinations, the duration of potential exposure to parasites, seasonality and level of transmission, pregnancy and age.

Protecting yourself from mosquito bite is the easiest way for malaria prevention. Because of the disturbing feeding habits of most of anopheles mosquitoes, malaria transmission occurs mainly at night. Protection against mosquito bites includes:

  • Using mosquito nets(with insecticide -treated nets)
  • Wearing of clothes that cover most of your body
  • Use of insect repellent on skin

 

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