Malaria is a serious disease that spreads by the bite of female anopheles mosquito and the causative agent is a parasite called plasmodium. It kills thousands of people every year, mostly in the tropical countries like Africa where the climate is very favourable for the parasite and the vector to thrive.
Types of Malaria Affecting Humans:
There are mainly five types of plasmodium that affect humans. The most dangerous ones are
Plasmodium falciparum– It is very common in Africa. It can cause death quickly as it multiplies very fast causing severe blood loss and clogging the blood vessels. It is also called cerebral malaria as it effects the brain.
Plasmodium vivax– This is found in Asia and Latin America. It can cause disease after many months or years after mosquito bite as it remains latent in the body. It poses a diagnostic dilemma in travellers to endemic areas since recent history of travel is missing. So any history of travel years back may also be important if symptoms occur.
Symptoms of Malaria:
Symptoms usually develop between 7-20 days of bite. They are very similar to cold and flu and hence difficult to differentiate at first.
Typical Symptoms –
Cold stage- you feel cold and shivery
Hot stage- high fever develops in this stage
Sweating stage- you feel lot of sweating and severe fatigue
Other Symptoms associated with Malaria:
Death can also occur
Vivax infection can cause symptoms months to years after infection. Uncomplicated malaria causes very mild symptoms but complicated malaria is dangerous.
Aspects Associated with Severe Malaria:
Occurs when infection is complicated with organ failure for e.g.
Cerebral malaria- Abnormal behaviour, seizures, coma and neurological abnormality can occur
Severe malaria is a medical emergency and needs urgent admission and aggressive treatment. It is even more serious in pregnancy because of the low immunity levels. So any fever must not be neglected and consultation of a qualified medical practitioner sought lest it maybe something serious.