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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Malaria




Malaria is an infectious disease which currently affects about 45% of the world population and kills 2-3 million people annually; many of which are children. A shocking note is that approximately 1 child dies every 30 seconds from this disease.
The word Malaria was shortened to this form from the Italian word Mal 'aria meaning "bad air". Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite called plasmodium which enters the human body through the bite of a female anophele mosquito.
The parasite has many species, many of which affect animals and only four that affect humans. Out of these four species, only one (plasmodium falciparum) is deadly and vital if not diagnosed and dealt with on time.

The parasite – a complex one celled organism – transmits in a very complicated way through two hosts (for more info on this, check out:       ). After entering the human body – or in other words, the vertebrate host – it attacks the red blood cells and by multiplying, it bursts and destroys them.

Symptoms:
The incubation period (the period of time until the symptoms kick in) is usually 1 to 3 weeks. But due to some factors such as genetics, this period can range from a few days to even a few months. The first 24 hours is usually along with headache, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle ache, fever and anemia are some of the symptoms. But after this period, three stages (extreme coldness and shivering, extreme feeling of warmth and abnormal sweating) keep on happening simultaneously. This means that each of these stages will happen for a few hours and after the sweating stops, the cycle will start again after a day or so.   

Pregnant women:
Pregnant women are at risk of many disorders and as they share their body with an embryo, many of them can affect the child as well. Malaria is also one of these dangers.
About 1 million infants die annually from Malaria worldwide; about 200-300 thousand of these deaths happen in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prevention:
Unlike the ordinary flu, Malaria is not passed on through sneezing and coughing and only through the transfer of the infected blood by an anophele mosquito. So those who are in malaria-zones or are traveling there, must consult with their doctors. Full body covering, bug sprays and nets around sleeping area can also be useful in malaria-zones.

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