According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a child dies of malaria every minute; every year, 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria and an estimated 627,000 die because of the disease.
How does one get infected?
Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. There are more than 100 species of malaria causing mosquitoes and the most deadly parasite, plasmodium falciparum, is found in South Africa. Once the parasite gains access to the human body, it hosts itself in the liver where it multiplies 1000s of times. After two weeks, the parasite bursts into the blood stream and starts infecting the red blood cells.
Symptoms of Malaria
The common symptoms of malaria are high fever, chills and headache. If Malaria is detected early, severe illness and death can be avoided.
The symptoms appear 10-15 days after the infected mosquito bite. If medication is not given on time, the infected person could suffer from brain damage, loss of muscle function and even death.
Malaria - Facts you need to know
- Malaria breeds in warm places where there is excess humidity and rain
- In some rarer forms of malaria, the parasite remains dormant and will not infect a person for up to four years
- An infected person will feel the signs anywhere from within a week to a month after the bite
- Pregnant women face more risk in malaria, as it can be passed to the infant during pregnancy. This results in low birth weight which hampers the baby’s chance of survival.
- Malaria can also be contracted by traveling to an endemic country. If the traveller’s immune system is weak, he, or she can get infected easily.
- Malaria is not a contagious disease. It is not contracted through contact with an infected person, sexually or otherwise.
- People with low immunity are more prone to Malaria, hence children are the most affected.
Malaria can pose a significant threat to many families who cannot afford the treatment. Malaria can be cured, provided the diagnosis is early and treatment, prompt. This is the only way death by malaria can be prevented.