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What is malaria?

Posted on  December 4, 2021  by  Adam

What is malaria?

Malaria is a parasitic communicable disease caused by various plasmodium species which are plasmodium falciparum, plasmodium ovale, plasmodium vivax. The disease affects all age groups starting from 4-month-old infants to elderlies and it's possible for anyone to be infected by two Plasmodium species at a time. The symptoms and signs of malaria for all plasmodium species include the following categorized based on age and disease severity;

What are malaria symptoms:

Symptoms of Malaria include fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur. Malaria may cause anemia and jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin and eyes) because of the loss of red blood cells.

Under Five Infants

Reduced activity Rise in temperature (fever) Failure to feed Shivering Diarrhea Vomiting In a severe form the child can have; Yellowing of eyes, lips, palms, and soles(jaundice) Black tea/ coca-cola urine Convulsions Anaemia Dehydration Constipation Intense abdominal pain due to spleen enlargement. NB

The above symptoms cut across to 5-13year old children

For 13 and Adults;

Headache Joint and muscle pains Rise in temperature (fevers) General body weakness Loss of appetite Diarrhea Abdominal pain Vomiting

In a Severe Disease, We Have;

Jaundice Anaemia Dehydration Constipation Shivering and convulsions Black tea/coca-cola urine Intense abdominal pain due to spleen enlargement Fainting and coma Note

For all age groups, hyper parasitemia, hypoglycemia, enlarged spleen are only evident from respective investigations are indicative of severe malaria disease The above symptoms and signs may not be evident one can have one or two but always malaria and other supporting laboratory investigations are needed to diagnose malaria accurately.

Laboratory Investigations

Malaria is investigated in two ways mainly; The malaria antigen rapid diagnostic test Blood smear. Rarely bone marrow aspirate is required. All the above tests can detect all the plasmodium species that cause malaria However; negative malaria may not exclude the disease as; There could be low peripheral parasitemia in a peripheral blood sample. The parasites could be not yet in the erythrocytic stage but in the liver. The parasites could be in the bone marrow. For such happenings, it's always advised to take a trial of Antimalarial Drugs, redo testing after 7days and carry out more supportive investigations to exclude other diseases which may manifest the same way as malaria. Treatment of malaria The choice of treatment for malaria is directed by clinical severity, complications present, and tailored to an individual patient. All the antimalarial drugs available are broad-spectrum drugs that can clear away all Plasmodium species. For Mild Malaria Disease, Oral Antimalarial Therapy is sufficient.

For severe malaria disease intravenous or intramuscular injections treatment is preferable. The treat can go to a duration of 7day if combined oral and injections. Other supportive treatments are key to quick symptoms alleviation. These include; Antipyretic drugs and analgesics Rehydration fluids both oral and intravenous Antiemetics Blood transfusions Nutrition supplements Tepid sponging. Malaria prevention Adequate treatment Sleep under treated mosquito nets Use mosquito repellents Intermittent Preventive Treatment with Antimalarial Drugs.


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