What Exactly Is Malaria?
Jan 08, 2023 By Nancy Miller

When a mosquito carrying malaria bites you, you might get a dangerous illness. The malaria parasite is transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito. The malaria parasites, not viruses or bacteria, are responsible for the disease.

Seizures, brain damage, difficulty breathing, organ failure, and death are all possible outcomes of untreated malaria. In the United States, only approximately 2,000 instances of the illness are reported annually.

If you are traveling to a region where malaria is prevalent, it is important to discuss preventative measures with your doctor. A mosquito bite from an infected person who has traveled to the United States can infect others.

How Frequent Is Malaria, Exactly?

Tropical regions with high temperatures and humidity tend to have high malaria rates. Malaria was responsible for 241 million infections and 627,000 fatalities worldwide in 2020. Africa and South Asia have disproportionately high rates of this.

Where Can You Often Find Malaria?

Malaria is widespread and most common in tropical and subtropical regions with high temperatures and humidity, such as:

  • Africa.
  • South and Central America.
  • Caribbean nations like Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
  • Europe's east
  • Asia's south and southeast.
  • The Islands in the South and Central Pacific

Can Everyone Develop Malaria?

Malaria may strike anybody, but those who reside in Africa are more likely to contract the disease. Malaria is particularly dangerous for young children, the elderly, and pregnant women.

Complications from the condition are more common in low-income people who lack access to healthcare. African countries account for more than 90% of the world's malaria mortality, almost all of which are infants and toddlers. In 2020, children less than five years old accounted for almost 80% of malaria fatalities in the region.

Why Does One Get Malaria?

Malaria is spread when mosquitoes feed on infected humans. Each time it bites a human host, that mosquito introduces a new parasite into the host's circulation. Parasites thrive in that environment.

Humans can become infected with one of five different malaria parasite species. Malaria may be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn child under unusual circumstances. In theory, malaria may be transmitted by blood transfusions, organ donations, or hypodermic needles, but this is quite improbable in practice.

When Do Malaria Symptoms First Appear?

When infected with malaria, symptoms often manifest between 10 days and a month later. The severity of symptoms is often parasite-specific. Up to a year may pass between the mosquito bite and the onset of symptoms for some people. Sometimes parasites can remain dormant within a host for years.

Recurrence of malaria is possible in some cases due to differences in parasites. The parasites spend years dormant in the liver before being discharged into circulation. When the parasites start spreading again, so do the symptoms.

How Can One Determine If A Patient Has Malaria?

You might expect an examination and questions about your symptoms and recent travels from your doctor. Providers can better assess your risk if you are transparent about the places you have recently visited.

Your physician will draw some blood and send it to the lab to check for malaria parasites. You can find out if you have malaria and what kind of parasite is causing your symptoms with a simple blood test. Your doctor can then utilize this data to provide the most effective care for you.

To What Extent Can I Avoid Getting Malaria?

Visit your doctor about malaria prophylaxis if you'll be visiting or temporarily residing in a malarial region. The medication must be taken before, during, and after your hospital stay. Malaria risk can be drastically decreased with medication. Despite taking these medications, nothing can be done about it if you still have malaria.

To What Extent Do Malaria Patients Often Recover?

Malaria can cause severe health issues, including irreversible organ damage and death if it is not treated effectively. If you have recently been to a region where malaria is prevalent, or if you suspect that you have malaria, you should get medical attention straight once.

As with most things, getting started on treatment quickly pays off in the long run. Malaria may be cured with the appropriate drug and dosage. Malaria may be transmitted from one human to another by the bite of an infected mosquito, regardless of whether or not the previous human had the disease.

How Does The Sickle Cell Trait Affect Malaria?

Researchers have shown that those who carry the sickle cell trait are more resistant to Plasmodium falciparum malaria. There's evidence that the sickle shape of red blood cells aids in entrapping and killing parasites. More research is being done to better understand the implications of these findings.

Individuals who carry both the sickle cell gene and a normal gene are said to have sickle cell traits. This condition is distinct from sickle cell anemia. "sickle cell disease" refers to blood abnormalities, including sickle cell anemia.

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