World Malaria Day
DID YOU KNOW?
- According to a recent study published in The Lancet 2,05,000 people die annually before 70 years of age due to malaria.
- 55,000 among them die in early childhood, 30,000 die between the ages 5 and 14, and 1,20,000 die between 15 and 69 years of age.
- 90% of malaria-deaths occur in rural areas and 86% occur outside of any healthcare facility.
- Orissa has the highest incidence of malaria-attributable deaths with more than 50,000 people dying of the disease.
- About 15 lakh confirmed cases are reported annually by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, of which 40-50% are due to Plasmodium falciparum.
- WHO reports that 330 crore people or approximately half the population of the world is at risk of malaria.
- Plasmodium parasites cause malaria in humans, which is spread through bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly parasite among the five known species of parasites that cause malaria in humans.
- The incidence of malaria can be largely reduced and deaths prevented through early diagnosis and treatment.
- Complications from severe malaria pose a particularly high risk for pregnant women, and is often related to abortion, premature delivery, stillbirth and severe maternal anaemia. It is also responsible for about one-third of preventable low-birth-weight babies.
Usual symptoms of malaria include fever, nausea, sweating, vomiting, chills, headache, convulsions, muscle pain, anaemia, blood stools and jaundice. In case of an infection from Plasmodium vivax or Plasmodium ovale, there will be a cyclical occurrence of sudden coldness followed by shivering and then fever and sweating lasting four to six hours, occurring every two days. In case of Plasmodium malariae the occurrence will be every two days. For Plasmodium falciparum the fever will recur every 36-48 hours, or the fever may be less pronounced and almost continuous. Among the five known species of the Plasmodium parasites (Plasmodium knowlesi being the fifth one), severe malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum with consequences of coma and death. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable in case of a falciparum infection.
Malaria should be suspected in patients residing in endemic areas as well as those who have visited one and presenting the above symptoms. Even though malaria shares signs and symptoms with many common infectious diseases, investigation should be carried out given the following conditions:
- Running nose, cough and other signs of respiratory infection
- Burning micturition and/or lower abdominal pain
- Skin rash/infections
- Painful swelling of joints
- Ear discharge
People visiting an endemic area may take anti-malarial medication as a preventive measure. Some of the most common prescribed drugs include mefloquine, doxycyciline, choloroquine, hydroxy-chloroquine, or Malarone. However, in recent studies it has been observed that Plasmodium falciparum is increasingly becoming resistant to chloroquine which has been the popular choice for malaria control. Also, in spite of anti-malarial medication, one may still get infected. Some of the other measures for preventing malaria include protective clothing over arms and legs, using of screens on windows, using mosquito repellents, and most importantly sleeping under mosquito-nets. Spraying of insecticides is one other option that may be exercised to prevent malaria.
- World Malaria Report 2011
- Adult and child malaria mortality in India: A nationally representative mortality survey. 2010 – The Lancet
- Guidelines for Diagnosis and Treatment of Malaria in India, 2009
- Malaria Country Profile (1995-2007)
- Malaria-attributed death rates in India