Malaria is a very important public health issue, especially in smaller children because symptoms of malaria may vary from adults. Malaria is caused by female anopheles’ mosquitoes by spreading malarial parasite. There are 4 types of malarial parasite in India namely plasmodium vivex, falciparum, ovale and malariae.
Out of these first 2 are most common type. P. vivex usually causes uncomplicated malaria, but P. falciparum is responsible for mostly complicated malaria including cerebral malaria. Symptoms of malaria include high grade fever with chills, vomiting, headache, pain abdomen, lethargy and child need immediate consultation by a qualified pediatrician if malaria is suspected.
Treatment of malaria depends on severity of illness, tolerance of treatment, efficacy of drugs and associated complications. Pharmacological treatment includes antimalarial drugs, which could be oral on outdoor basis or parental after hospitalization.
Major challenge of oral antimalarial are poor acceptance in children as these medicines are bitter in taste and child may vomit after intake and may not accept at all. Secondly parasite may not be sensitive to oral medicine specially falciparum and illness become complicated. Quinine and chloro quine are common oral antimalarial available.
Intravenous treatment may require in complicated malaria and need hospitalization for administration of drugs and monitoring of complications related to illness as well as medicine. Side effects related to I.V. antimalarial are quite common and need strict monitoring.
Children have greater risk of malaria and its complication as they are more exposed to mosquitoes during outdoor play and sleeping hours. Prevention of mosquitoes breeding areas and use of full sleeve cloths, mosquito repellent cream during outdoor play are most effective way to prevent mosquito bite.
Use of mosquito net over windows and over beds during sleeping hours are effective measures in indoor area. Vaccine against malaria is still under development and may be a promising measure to prevent malaria in future.
Malaria is a deadly disease for babies as it weakens their immune system and hence it is very important to keep the surroundings neat and clean. Prevention is the best way and if any symptoms are felt, one should immediately visit the pediatrician.