Malaria is an infectious tropical disease, widely found in the continents of Asia, Africa, and America. Transmission of blood from the person suffering from the disease to the healthy one, through a mosquito bite, causes malaria. The most common way of transmission is due to Anopheles mosquito bite. Malaria-causing parasites are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium vivax, and Plasmodium ovale.
Symptoms of malaria are fever, chills, nausea, dizziness, and joint pain. Besides these, anemia and tachycardia are also sometimes observed. Malaria, in its extreme case, can result in coma or even death. Hence, it is important to follow all the preventive measures.
How to Prevent Malaria
- In order to prevent this disease, you need to avoid mosquito bites. If you are traveling to any place, find out if malaria prevails in that area. If it does, it is best to avoid going there. If you are compelled to go, make sure that you follow all the necessary preventive measures. It is strongly recommended for children, old people, and pregnant women to avoid visiting places where this infectious disease is prevalent, as they are more susceptible to it.
- It is advisable to take anti-malaria drugs, as advised by the doctor. The type of drugs and its dosage differs from person to person. It is necessary to take these drugs if you are visiting countryside. Chloroquine, Mefloquine, Primaquine, Doxycycline, etc., are some of the medications for malaria, that are to be taken only under medical supervision and recommendation. Sometimes, a person may contract malaria, even though he/she has taken anti-malaria drugs. You should seek medical help in case any signs of the illness are noticed. It should be remembered that the initial symptoms are mild, but should not be ignored.
- Fever is the most common symptom of malaria. Hence, if you suffer from severe fever, within a year of your return from any malaria-infected place, you must immediately seek medical advice.
- Mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant waters, hence, it must be immediately drained to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it. The containers used for storing water, water-coolers, etc., should also be cleaned regularly. Purification of water should be carried out regularly. Stored drinking water should be checked and cleaned so that mosquitoes do not breed in it.
- Mosquitoes bite usually in the evening and night. In order to avoid mosquito bites, you should sleep in a room that has a gauze. Prefer air-conditioned rooms in mosquito-infected areas.
- Adventure travelers and hikers are at a higher risk of contracting malaria. While sleeping outdoors, using mosquito nets around your bed will prevent mosquito bite. The net should be made of a thin mesh and should not have any holes in it. It should be tucked under the mattress. When not in use, it should be rolled up so as to keep mosquitoes from entering in it. There are insecticide-treated nets available that kill mosquitoes when they enter the net. Many organizations distribute insecticide-treated nets in rural areas.
- Spray insecticides or mosquito repellents in the room before you enter. This will kill mosquitoes that may have entered the room during the day. It is observed that mosquitoes rest on walls to digest their meal. Therefore, if the walls are sprayed with insecticides, mosquitoes will die before they bite a healthy person. Insecticides like IRS (Indoor Residual Spraying), DDT, are found to be very useful.
- You can even use mosquito repellent creams. It is advisable to read instructions and manufacturer's recommendations before use because a reaction or a rash may develop if the cream does not suit you.
- Wear full-sleeved dresses or long pants if you will be outdoors after sunset. It will help reduce mosquito bites. It is even observed that mosquitoes are attracted to dark-colored clothes. Hence, wear light-colored clothes. Wearing thick socks and shoes is also recommended. It may be difficult to follow this in hot climatic regions, nevertheless, one should try as it is a useful preventive measure.
Malaria, once diagnosed, can be treated effectively in its early stages. Delay in treatment can result in serious and fatal consequences. Undertaking a blood test will help in diagnosing the disease. Medical treatment should be started immediately, and the effect of the drugs should be monitored regularly.
All over the world, it has been observed that educating masses has remarkably reduced the number of malaria victims. Various campaigns are undertaken to create awareness among people about the dangers of the disease. Programs for development of malaria vaccination are currently being undertaken.
Malaria is most commonly seen in poverty-stricken areas, where people are not aware about the disease. Maintaining hygiene and sanitation is very essential to prevent this condition. One must realize the dangers of malaria and take precautions against the disease.