Frequently Asked Questions About Malaria
What Is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease that is caused by a single cell parasite and transmitted by female mosquitoes. Malaria is a serious and sometimes deadlyl disease that is caused by a parasite. It commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who are infected with malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness.
Four kinds of malaria parasites infect humans. They are:
- Plasmodium falciparum,
- Plasmodium vivax,
- Plasmodium ovale, and
- Plasmodium malariae.
In addition, Plasmodium knowlesi, is a type of malaria parasite that naturally infects macaques (some type of monkeys) in Southeast Asia. Not only does it infect monkeys, it also infects humans. As it does, it causes malaria to be transmitted from animal to human (“zoonotic” malaria).
Plasmodium falciparum is the type of malaria that can cause severe infections. If those infections are not treated promptly, they may lead to death.
Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented. Malaria can also be transmitted from blood contact, like when sharing needles or during blood transfusions.
What Are The Symtoms Of Malaria?
People who are infected with malaria are most of the time very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. It is iportant to know that your baby is unlikely to get malaria in the first two months of her life. This is because of the immunity the mother gave her during pregnancy. As the baby gets older, she loses that immunity, and her risk of catching malaria increases.
Malaria tends to be more severe in children under five years old. Symptoms start showing about 10 days to four weeks after being bitten.
If your little one is younger than five, you should look out for these malaria symptoms: Fever, shivering, cold, irritability and drowsiness. Other symtoms include: poor appetite, sleeplessness, vomiting, stomach pain, hypothermia (instead of a fever) and rapid breathing.
How Does A Mosquito Transmit Malaria?
Malaria is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry malaria usually bite at night. OnlyAnopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person.
When a mosquito bites an infected person, a small amount of blood is drawm which contains microscopic malaria parasites. About one week later, when the mosquito takes its next blood meal, these parasites mix with the mosquitoes’ saliva and are injected into the person that they bite.
Since the malaria parasite is found in red blood cells of an infected person, that means that malaria can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or the shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood. Malaria may also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn infant before or during delivery (“congenital” malaria).
Is Malaria Contagious?
No, malaria cannot be spread from person to person like a cold or flu. Malaria is not sexually transmitted either. That means that you cannot get malaria from casual contact with malaria-infected people, like sitting next to someone who has malaria.
Do All Mosquitoes Transmit Malaria?
No, scientists have identified over 2000 species of mosquitoes but the female anopheles mosquitoes are known to transmit malaria.
Is Malaria Seasonal?
Don’t be fooled, malaria occurs all year round, but the number of cases skyrockets during the rainy season. Why the rainy season? The cases of malaria increases during the rainy season because of the favourable warm humid weather and stagnant water that is common then.
With plenty of stagnant water and warm weather, you have a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes that cause malaria.
Do Mosquitoes Transmit HIV/AIDS?
No, although this is a common fear of most people, there is no evidence to support the theory that mosquitoes can transmit (HIV). It is important to note that when a mosquito feeds on a human, it injects a small amount of saliva, which acts as a lubricant, so the mosquito can feed very smoothly.
The mosquito never injects another person’s blood into the person it is feeding or even if there were small amounts of blood on the mosquito’s mouth parts, there would have died or disappeared before the mosquito feeds again.
Why Is The The Treatment of Malaria Important In Pregnant Women?
Since pregnancy weakens the immune system of pregnant women, the mother can transmit the malaria parasites to the unborn child.
A woman that catches malaria while pregnant has greater chances of maternal anemia, low infant birth weight among others. Zeramal®is not safe in pregnant women during the 1st trimester of pregnancy.
What Do I Do If My Child Has Symptoms Of Malaria?
If you suspect that your child may be coming down with high fever and chills, you need to contact your doctor as soon as possible. Only a blood test will confirm if your child has malaria. By getting your child to your doctor as soon as possible, you will keep your child safe.