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The malaria , also known as malaria, is the disease caused by a group of parasites which is transmitted by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. It is the most important parasitic disease in man, affecting more than 500 million people and producing between 1 and 3 million deaths per year.

It has been eradicated from Europe and North America but is still present in many tropical areas, especially Africa.

Causes of malaria

This disease is caused by a group of parasites (protozoa) of the genus Plasmodium.

There are four species, which are: Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium falciparum (almost all fatal cases are due to this type).

Infection in humans will occur when a female Anopheles mosquito inoculates (by biting to feed) the parasites into the human being.

With the bite of the infected female mosquito, the parasites pass into the bloodstream and, thanks to their mobility, reach the liver in a few minutes. Within the liver cells (hepatocytes) the division of parasites occurs. When these have partially matured, they break the hepatocytes out into the bloodstream and here they penetrate into the red blood cells, invading them and continuing their growth. Once the life cycle within the red blood cell is over (about 48 hours), the parasite has consumed almost all the hemoglobin and has grown to occupy most of the red blood cell. Subsequently, the red blood cell breaks, leaving the parasites into the blood, being able to invade new erythrocytes.

Because the parasitized red blood cells carry less oxygen and can adhere to the capillaries, this can lead to lack of oxygenation and necrosis of different organs (spleen, liver, kidney, digestive system , placenta and brain).

What symptoms appear?

The initial symptoms of malaria are nonspecific:

The most characteristic of malaria will be the sequence of symptoms consisting of chills, fever (the temperature can exceed 40º C), sweating, hypothermia and relaxation, alternating with asymptomatic periods.

Common symptoms in uncomplicated malaria are fever, malaise, mild anemia, enlarged liver (more common in young children), mild jaundice , and in some cases, enlarged spleen.

Special shapes

Severe falciparum malaria : Among the signs that may appear are fever of 40ºC, headache, drowsiness, confusion, changes in behavior, agitation and later coma. Generalized seizures may also appear. Despite treatment, it is accompanied by a mortality of 20% in adults, and 15% in children. All this would be part of what is known as cerebral malaria, but hypoglycemia , pulmonary edema, kidney failure, alterations in coagulation and a slight drop in platelets can also appear , among other complications.

Malaria in pregnancy : the most frequent complications will be low birth weight, fetal distress, premature delivery and abortion.
There may also be individuals with asymptomatic infections .

Diagnosis of malaria

There are several techniques for the diagnosis of malaria and they will be based on detecting the presence of the parasite in the blood. The methods can be direct and indirect.

The direct methods will be: verification of the existence of the parasite with a microscope and using stains such as Giemsa by means of thick film or by extension, detection of the parasite’s DNA by the PCR technique and use of capture assays of certain antigens of the parasite.

Indirect methods are: detection of the activity of various enzymes of the parasite in blood and detection of antibodies.

How is it treated?

Treatment of uncomplicated malaria: it will consist of oral chloroquine, except in the case of vomiting and in children under one year of age where chloroquine can be given intravenously or subcutaneously, intravenous quinine or intramuscular sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine.
If there is resistance to chloroquine, the following can be used: mefloquine, quinine, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine or mefloquine-sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine.

Treatment of severe malaria: intravenous chloroquine infusion. In case of resistance to chloroquine, intravenous quinine dihydrochloride will be administered. In both cases, as soon as the patient can swallow, it will be taken orally.

Avoid malaria

Travelers going to tropical areas must take antimalarial prophylaxis for at least one week before their departure and it must be maintained for 4 weeks after the traveler has left the endemic area. It is usually done with mefloquine, although it can also be done with doxycillin or chloroquine.

Once in the area, simple measures are very important to reduce the frequency of mosquito bites. Among them are: wearing clothing that covers the skin, using insect repellants, avoiding going out at times when mosquitoes usually bite (from dusk to dawn), using insecticide-impregnated bednets, etc.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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