Malaria is a deadly disease that can prove to be fatal if not detected on time and if not treated on time. It is important that people are aware about the signs and symptoms associated with malaria so that steps can be taken immediately.
Detection and Diagnoses of Malaria:
We can diagnose Malaria through 4 ways:
- Blood Film : The mainstay of diagnosis remains to be the examination of blood film. Thick film allows the identification of the level of parasitaemia and thin film allows species identification. Blood test after 3 days of persistent malaria symptoms is used for diagnosis.
- Rapid Diagnostic Tests: Immunochromatographic tests use finger stick or venous blood for detection which is suitable for use in field as the results are read easily on the strips. The only disadvantage in this test is that it is a qualitative test not quantitative.
- Modern Rapid Diagnostic Test: Tests for malaria often include a combination of two antigens- a malaria specific antigen and an antigen specific to the strain, such as a P. Falciparum specific antigen + Histidine- rich protein II (HRP II). It should be noted that such tests do not a sensitivity of 100%
- PCR and related molecular tests: Serologic tests indicate history of disease but are not useful for the diagnosis of acute infection. PCR and related molecular tests (eg: LAMP) are highly sensitive but not available for routine diagnosis as they are expensive and requires specialized laboratory.
- Empirical Diagnosis : Areas that cannot afford laboratory diagnostic tests often do Empirical Diagnosis by the help of history of fever with chills and rigors, to start the treatment of malaria.
How to prevent Malaria :
There are multiple ways to prevent malaria. Some of them are as follows:
Malaria is transmitted by night- biting of female anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria can have serious complications affecting multiple organs and can also cause death if not diagnosed and treated at the right time. Over the period of time, there have been new strains of malaria mosquitoes that are resistant to our presently available drugs and medications. For the same, we should be more alert and prompt not to delay the initial diagnosis and therapy to the disease.
- The best way to prevent malaria is the use of Bed Nets, in particular nets treated with Permethrin insecticide.
- Extensive efforts are also being made to develop malaria vaccine, and partial protection of African children has been demonstrated with the RTS,S vaccine, which is under development.
- Travellers travelling to endemic areas are counselled on the prevention of mosquito bites.
- Not to keep water accumulated in coolers and other places, keeping mosquito fish Gambusia) which feeds on mosquito larvae and help them to control, using mosquito repellent creams and bands before going in gardens or playing outside.
Effective treatment is the corner stone for preventing its spread. Consult a specialist immediately if you notice that you develop high grade fever with chills and rigors, nausea and weakness.