In the year 1897, Sir Ronald Ross in India discovered that mosquitoes transmit malarial parasites into the human body, thus, causing malaria. Even 100 years after the breakthrough, Malaria remains one of the most important public health problems in tropical countries including India and causes around 1200 deaths every day.
What is Malaria and How Does it Spread?
Malaria is a deadly tropical disease spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes. When an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a healthy human, it results in Malaria. The cycle is explained below:
- Female Anopheles mosquito carrying malaria-causing parasites known as Plasmodium parasite.
- While feeding on the blood of the human, it transfers the parasite into the blood.
- The parasite travels to the liver where it multiplies rapidly.
- These parasites destroy the red blood cells in the body which releases more parasites.
- When a female Anopheles mosquito feeds on the malaria-infected host, it also gets infected.
- The female Anopheles then keeps on passing the parasite on to other people she bites.
Who is Most at Risk?
People who have little or no immunity to malaria and are heavily exposed to the bites of mosquitoes infected with P. falciparum are at a high risk.
What are the Symptoms of Malaria?
Malaria infection is generally characterized by the following signs and symptoms:
- The initial symptoms may resemble a simple viral infection and patient may have headache, fatigue, body ache and abdominal pain.
- This is usually followed by high grade fever which may reach 104-degree Fahrenheit
- Fever is usually associated with feeling very cold (chills) and shivering.
- Nausea, Vomiting or Diarrhoea
Other complications include Anaemia, Liver failure and jaundice, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Ways to Prevent Malaria:
Malaria prevention is entirely based on protection against mosquito bites. Several malaria vaccines are under development and none is available yet in the market.