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Commonly, on tropical and sub-tropical countries, malaria virus is a fatal disease that can be acquired in a mosquito bite. Female anopheles mosquitoes are the known carrier of such virus. However, not all mosquitoes of this kind transmit it; it is known that at 20 and above temperatures, the virus completes its cycle on this kind of mosquito, therefore, people living in colder areas and high altitude places are less prone to this virus. Therefore, virus transmission is most likely to occur on warmer regions and happens all year-round.
If this kind of mosquito is the known carrier, then, where does it really originate? In 1880, Alphonse Laveran noted the parasite, Oscillaria malariae, on a patient’s blood. Contrary to the belief of Laveran that there was only one kind of such parasite; several kinds of human malaria parasites were discovered then. In 1890, the name Plasmodium vivax and malariae were coined by Giovanni Batista Grassi and Raimondo Filetti. Succeeded by the discovery of P. falciparum by William H. Welch (1897), P. ovale by John William Watson Stephens (1922) and P. knowlesi by Robert Knowles and Biraj Mohan Das Gupta (1931). Out of these five species, falciparum and vivax were known to pose the greatest threat to humans. Therefore, mosquitoes are only the medium of transfer of this parasite in to humans. Mosquitoes become infected and with the right temperature, sporogonic cycle, the time interval during which the parasite develops in the mosquito, happens.
Once a human is infected, the parasites develop maturity in the liver then travel into the bloodstream where they attack the red blood cells. The body will then show symptoms such as high fever, nausea, headache, vomiting, anemia, bloody stool, muscle pain, convulsions and diarrhea.
Malaria treatment depends on the severity, the specie of the parasite and the place where it was possibly acquired. Common drugs used for treatment are quinine, quinidine and chloroquine. On the other hand, patients who cannot take medications orally will be treated with continuous intravenous (IV fluid) infusion.
There is no known available vaccine that can provide life-long protection from acquiring this infection. However, according to WHO (World Health Organization), there is an injectable vaccine, the RTS, S/AS01 (RTS, S) also known as Mosquirix, which provides limited protection to young children. In 2016, WHO announced that pilot project deployment will be started in three sub-Saharan African countries; initial phase will be started in 2018.
In a nutshell, malaria is a fatal disease which is common on countries near the equator where mosquitoes and the parasites can develop. Medical prevention, such as vaccine, is yet to be discovered and deployed in these countries. Hence, the most effective way to avert getting infected is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquito nets, insecticides and mosquito coils are known to be the most efficient way.
- World Health Organization. “Malaria.” World Health Organization (WHO), 1 Apr. 2017. Online. Internet. 27 Oct. 2017. Available: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/.
- Burke, Darla. “Malaria.” Healthline, 18 Jul. 2017. Online. Internet. 27 Oct. 2017. . Available: https://www.healthline.com/health/malaria#overview1.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Malaria.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Feb. 2017. Online. Internet. 27 Oct. 2017. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/diagnosis_treatment/treatment.html.