What is Malaria?

Malaria is a really dangerous disease that a parasite causes. The infected female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit it when they bite you. Many parts of the world especially tropical and subtropical regions, face a significant public health issue. In this article, we will provide comprehensive information about Malaria.

Malaria Caused by Mosquitoes Bite


Plasmodium parasites cause Malaria when infected female Anopheles mosquitoes bite humans. The parasite enters the bloodstream and multiplies in the liver. Afterward, it infects red blood cells, leading to their bursting and the release of additional parasites into the bloodstream. This cycle can continue indefinitely, leading to the characteristic Malaria symptoms.

Prevalence of Malaria Worldwide

This is a widespread disease. It affects many regions around the world, especially sub-Saharan Africa. It Causes a significant burden of disease and mortality there. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that around 229 million Malaria cases occurred worldwide in 2019, resulting in approximately 409,000 deaths. Kids lower than 5 years old are at a really high risk of getting this disease. They make up 67% of all Malaria deaths worldwide.

History of Malaria

Malaria, it’s been part of human history for thousands of years now. The earliest known reference to the disease was in ancient Chinese medical texts from around 2700 BC. The Greek physician Hippocrates described a disease resembling this disease in the 4th century BC, and the Roman historian Livy wrote about a plague that was likely Malaria in the 3rd century BC.

This disease was widespread in Europe until the 20th century. In particular areas with wetlands and marshes, provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Scientists discovered the mosquito’s role in transmitting disease in the late 19th century. Then researchers/scientists developed effective control measures.

In the next section, we will discuss the causes and transmission of the disease.


Causes and Transmission of Malaria

The parasite called Plasmodium causes this disease, and infected female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit this parasite when they bite you.

Parasite Responsible for Malaria (Plasmodium)

Several species of Plasmodium can cause Malaria in humans. The most common are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium Malariae and Plasmodium ovale. Each species has its own unique characteristics and geographical distribution.

Mosquitoes as the Primary Vectors

Female Anopheles mosquitoes are the primary vectors for transmitting this disease to humans. When a mosquito sucks the blood of someone who is infected, it takes in the Plasmodium parasite together with the blood. The parasite then goes through a series of developmental stages within the mosquito’s gut before migrating to the mosquito’s salivary glands. When the mosquito bites another person, it injects the Plasmodium parasite along with its saliva. This can then infect the person.

Different Types of Malaria

There are several different types of this disease, which are classified based on the species of Plasmodium responsible for the infection. There are various types of this disease so let’s talk about the most common ones.

  1. Plasmodium Falciparum Malaria: This is the most severe type of this disease. It causes most Malaria-related deaths globally. It is mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, but it also happens in parts of Asia and South America.
  2. Plasmodium Vivax Malaria: The most common type of Malaria outside of sub-Saharan Africa is mainly found in Asia and Latin America. Plasmodium vivax Malaria is usually mild compared to Plasmodium falciparum Malaria. But, it has the ability to trigger relapses months or even years after the first infection.
  3. Plasmodium Malariae Malaria: Malaria of this kind is not so common and mostly occurs in sub-Saharan Africa. It usually causes a milder level of the disease with symptoms that are not as severe.
  4. Plasmodium Ovale Malaria: This type of Malaria is also relatively uncommon and is found primarily in West Africa. It is similar to Plasmodium vivax Malaria in terms of symptoms and severity.

In the next section, we’ll discuss the symptoms of this disease.

Symptoms of Malaria

This disease causes a wide range of symptoms. The infection’s severity, the affected person’s immunity, and the type of parasite causing it can cause a difference.


Incubation Period and Initial Symptoms

When a mosquito bites someone and they get infected, it takes anywhere from 7 to 30 days for the symptoms to appear. During this time, the parasite can multiply in the liver before entering the bloodstream and causing symptoms.

The initial symptoms of this disease can be vague and flu-like and can include:

  1. Fever
  2. Headache
  3. Muscle pain
  4. Fatigue(a feeling of tiredness, weakness, or exhaustion)
  5. Nausea and vomiting

People often confuse these symptoms with other illnesses, which makes it challenging to diagnose and treat them early.

Classic Symptoms of Malaria

Most people often go through fever, chills, and a headache as the most common symptoms of this disease. You can experience these symptoms in cycles lasting 24 to 48 hours, depending on the type of parasite that causes the infection. During these cycles, a person may experience:

  1. High fever (up to 104°F)
  2. Chills and shivering
  3. Sweating
  4. Fatigue(a feeling of tiredness, weakness, or exhaustion)
  5. Muscle pain
  6. Nausea and vomiting

Parasites causing the infection determine how long these cycles last, which can be several days and reoccur every few days.

Complications and Severe Symptoms

Severe cases of this disease can lead to complications like → anemia, respiratory distress, and organ failure. Urgent medical attention is required for these symptoms, as they can be life-threatening.

  1. Respiratory distress: Severe cases of Malaria can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a life-threatening condition that requires mechanical ventilation.
  2. Organ failure: Malaria can cause organ failure, such as → liver and kidney failure. These complications could risk your life, so it’s crucial that you immediately seek medical attention.

Anemia: Malaria destroys red blood cells, leading to anemia, which causes weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

We’ll go ahead to the next part where we discuss how we diagnose and treat this disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Malaria

Usually, doctors diagnose this disease by looking at a blood sample through a microscope to find the Malaria parasite. This test is called a blood smear. It gives details about the kind of Malaria parasite and how severe the infection is.

Alternatively, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) offer another way to diagnose this disease, giving results within minutes. These tests work by detecting specific proteins or antigens produced by the Malaria parasite in a blood sample. RDTs are often used in settings where microscopic examination is not readily available or practical, such as → in rural or remote areas.

Anti-Malarial Drugs

There are various anti-malarial drugs you can use to treat and prevent the disease. These drugs target different stages in the life cycle of the Malaria parasite, and doctors often combine them to prevent the parasite from developing resistance to the drugs. Some common antiMalarial drugs include :

  1. Chloroquine: This drug works by preventing the Malaria parasite from digesting hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. Without this ability, the parasite cannot survive and replicate.
  2. Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapies (ACTs): These drugs work by targeting the Malaria parasite during the asexual stage of its life cycle, which is when the parasite causes symptoms. ACTs are highly effective and are recommended by the World Health Organization as the first-line treatment for uncomplicated Malaria.
  3. Primaquine: This drug is used to treat the dormant liver stage of the Malaria parasite, which can cause relapses months or even years after the initial infection. Primaquine works by disrupting the parasite’s DNA.

Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing serious complications and reducing the risk of transmission to others. In addition to blood tests and RDTs, healthcare providers may also consider a patient’s symptoms, travel history, and other factors when making a diagnosis.

Prompt treatment with appropriate anti-malarial drugs can cure the infection and prevent the development of drug resistance. It is important to complete the full course of treatment, even if symptoms improve before the medication is finished.

If you delay treatment, the risk of severe complications like → cerebral Malaria or kidney failure increases, and these complications can threaten your life. It can also increase the risk of transmission to others, as an infected person may continue to carry the parasite and transmit it to mosquitoes.

In the next section, we will discuss the prevention of the disease.

Prevention of Malaria

Preventing Malaria is crucial, particularly in areas where the disease is endemic. There are several measures that can be taken to prevent this disease, including:

Mosquito Control Measures

Mosquito control measures are an important strategy for preventing Malaria. These measures include using insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying. Insecticide-treated bed nets provide a physical barrier against mosquitoes and reduce the risk of being bitten. Indoor residual spraying involves spraying insecticides on the walls and surfaces of homes to kill mosquitoes.

Preventive Drugs

Preventive drugs can be used to prevent this disease in individuals who are at high risk of the disease. These drugs include chemoprophylaxis and intermittent preventive treatment. Chemoprophylaxis involves taking medication to prevent this disease before and during travel to a region where the disease is prevalent. Intermittent preventive treatment involves giving medication to pregnant women and infants in areas where Malaria is prevalent.

Strategies for Eliminating Malaria

Eliminating this disease requires a comprehensive approach that includes vaccine development, research into new treatments, and the use of existing prevention and control measures. Vaccine development is a promising strategy for Malaria prevention. The RTS, S vaccine is the first Malaria vaccine to receive regulatory approval and is being used in pilot programs in several African countries. People are actively conducting research into new treatments for this disease. They are developing new drugs and therapies to combat drug-resistant strains of the disease.

Final Words on Malaria

Malaria is like a dangerous illness. It happens when this parasite gets into your body. The mosquitoes bite you and pass it on and spread it on to you. You have to watch out for those tiny but deadly insects. People may experience symptoms such as → fever, headache, chills, and fatigue. In severe cases, the disease can lead to anemia, organ failure, seizures, coma, and even death. This disease can be diagnosed by a blood test and treated with anti-malarial medications. Prevention measures include using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, sleeping under a mosquito net, taking anti-malarial medications, and removing standing water around the home.

This disease is a big public health issue in numerous parts worldwide. Especially in developing countries with limited healthcare access. Continued research and development of new prevention and treatment strategies are crucial in the fight against this disease, especially as the Malaria parasite has developed resistance to many existing medications. By working together and implementing effective prevention and treatment measures, we can reduce the global burden of the disease and save countless lives.

Further Reading

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1 Comment

Akshay Sharma · June 3, 2023 at 11:55 am

I found the section on the malaria: causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention to be quite comprehensive. The article mentioned that symptoms can vary depending on the stage of the disease. Thanks for writing this kind of article.

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