Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a eukaryotic parasite transmitted by mosquitoes. The parasite is called Plasmodium. Malaria is a primary cause of illness and death that endangers more than 3 billion people worldwide. In severe malaria, organs fail to function and metabolic abnormalities occur which lead to serious medical urgencies or fatal consequences. In countries where malaria is a regular incident, the disease can be a challenge for major public health organizations that can place huge pressure on developing economies.
General signs and symptoms of malaria infection include fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle ache, fatigue, sweating, chest pain, abdominal pain, and cough. Typically, the signs and symptoms begin to exhibit within several days (sometimes few weeks) after being bitten by a mosquito infected with the parasite. However, some of the parasites can stay dormant for several months in the body.
Complications of the disease include cerebral malaria which occurs when the parasites are involve in the blockade of blood vessels supplying the brain which may lead to seizure and coma. Malaria can also cause accumulation of fluid in the lungs making breathing difficult. Malaria damages the red blood cells causing anemia. Low blood sugar and organ failure (kidney, liver) can be the fatal complications of malaria.
If malaria is common in the area, protect yourself and avoid bites from mosquitoes. Dusk and dawn are the time of the day which mosquitoes are active. To protect yourself, try to cover as much of your skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. Use insect repellent and apply it to both of your clothes and skin. Sleeping under a bed net may also prevent mosquitoes from biting your skin. Although there are drugs to treat malaria infection, there is still no vaccine available against the disease.
OpenStax Microbiology. The Eukaryotes of Microbiology. Accessed November 14, 2019