Malaria is an infection caused by the protozoa (small organism) Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans by the mosquito bite. It is a disease characterized by fever with chills and rigors, at a regular interval like a daily or alternate day, sweating, anemia, fatigue, and an enlarged spleen. Malaria is of overwhelming importance in the developing countries with approximately 300-500 million cases per year and 1 million deaths each year. Infants and young children are more prone to severe malaria and death because of it. Although the majority of malaria transmission cases are through mosquito bites it can be transmitted from one human to another by blood transfusion, use of contaminated needle and also from pregnant women to fetus.
Pregnancy and Malaria :
Pregnant mothers are more prone to severe malaria and its associated complications because of physiological changes in her immune system. During pregnancy malaria parasite has also tendency to infect placenta and so the fetus and causing congenital malaria. Even if it does not infect the fetus, malaria in pregnancy can be associated with growth retardation and low birth weight. Malaria can also be transmitted by the mother to child during delivery. Congenital malaria is a significant problem in malaria endemic countries like India. Congenital malaria is an important cause of abortions, still birth, growth retarded baby, and neonatal deaths.
So it’s very important to diagnose and treat malaria in pregnant women. Treatment of pregnant women itself is very challenging as a limited choice of safe drugs available. So it’s always better to take preventive measures. It can easily be prevented by taking precautions against mosquito bites.
Prevention of mosquito bites:
• By body covering clothes and use of mosquito nets, we can protect ourselves from mosquito bites.
• The screen on windows and doorways are an effective method for preventing mosquito entry into the houses.
• Use of mosquito repellents, which are available in many forms like bands, gels, creams, stickers etc when a child is going out. Never forget to remove that once child is back.
Few drugs are also available, which are recommended to persons traveling to malaria endemic areas. So do consult a doctor before traveling regarding the need of medicines.