Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes.
If you're traveling to locations where Malaria is common, take preventive medicine before, during and after your trip. Many Malaria parasites are now immune to the most common drugs used to treat the disease.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
A Malaria infection is generally characterized by recurrent attacks with the following signs and symptoms:
* Moderate to severe shaking chills
* High Fever
* Profuse sweating as body temperature falls
Other signs and symptoms may include:
Malaria signs and symptoms typically begin within a few weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, some types of Malaria parasites can lie dormant in your body for months, or even years.
Malaria is caused by a type of microscopic parasite that's transmitted most commonly by Mosquito bites.
Mosquito transmission cycle
Uninfected mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected by feeding on a person who has Malaria.
Transmission of parasite. If you're the next person this Mosquito bites, it can transmit Malaria parasites to you.
In the liver. The parasites then travel to your liver where they can lie dormant for as long as a year.
Into the bloodstream. When the parasites mature, they leave the liver and infect your red blood cells.
On to the next person. If an uninfected Mosquito bites you at this point in the cycle, it will become infected with your Malaria parasites and can spread them to the next person it bites.
Other modes of transmission
Because the parasites that cause Malaria affect red blood cells, people can also catch Malaria from exposures to infected blood, including:
* From mother to unborn child
* Through blood transfusions
* By sharing needles used to inject drugs
The variety that causes the most lethal complications is most commonly found in:
* African countries south of the Sahara desert
* The Indian subcontinent
* Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Haiti
Risks of more severe disease
People at increased risk of serious disease include:
* Young children and infants
* Travelers coming from areas with no Malaria
* Pregnant women and their unborn children
Poverty, lack of knowledge, and little or no access to health care also contribute to Malaria deaths worldwide.
In most cases, Malaria deaths are related to one or more of these serious complications:
* Cerebral Malaria. If parasite-filled blood cells block small blood vessels to your brain, swelling of your brain or brain damage may occur. It might cause coma
* Breathing problems. Accumulated Fluid in your lungs can make it difficult to breathe.
* Organ failure. Malaria can cause your kidneys or liver to fail, or your spleen to rupture. Any of these conditions can be life-threatening.
* Severe Anemia. Malaria damages red blood cells.
* Low blood sugar. Severe forms of Malaria itself can cause low blood sugar, as can quinine — one of the most common medications used to combat Malaria.
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
The types of drugs and the length of treatment will vary, depending on:
* Which type of Malaria parasite you have
* The severity of your symptoms
* Your age
* Whether you're pregnant
The most common antimalarial drugs include:
Combination of atovaquone and proguanil
LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES
In countries where Malaria is common, prevention also involves keeping mosquitoes away from humans. Strategies include:
Spraying your home. Treating your home's walls with insecticide can help kill adult mosquitoes that come inside.
Sleeping under a net. Bed nets, particularly those treated with insecticide, are especially recommended for pregnant women and young children.
Covering your skin. During active mosquito times, usually from dusk to dawn, wear pants and long-sleeved shirts.
Spraying clothing and skin. Sprays containing permethrin are safe to use on clothing, while sprays containing DEET can be used on skin.
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