Malaria Guide

Malaria is a disease that is caused by a parasite and it can be fatal. It is a tropical disease that is spread through mosquito vectors and actually caused by five different types of plasmodium parasite. You can become infected by malaria if an infected mosquito bites you as it can inject the parasite into your blood stream.

Malaria has been eliminated in some parts of the world such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America but it is still a prominent problem in a number of other countries. It is an endemic in some areas and causes between one and three million deaths, most of which occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is possible to catch malaria if you travel to any of the hotspots where malaria is an endemic. Figures show that there are 300-500 million cases of malaria worldwide so it is still having a huge impact on human health.

There are five different types of parasite that cause malaria. The most common parasite is Plasmodium falciparum, which resides in Africa. Once the parasite gets into the blood, it can travel around the body to the liver where it multiplies and then infects the red blood cells. It can cause a number of problems within the body and some symptoms associated with this disease include fever, chills, sweats and headaches. If this disease is left untreated, it can be fatal as it can cause cerebral malaria and other complications. Usually, if you get the right treatment, you will make a full recovery from this disease.

A number of people are at risk of malaria and there are some groups that are more at risk than others. If you do not live in an endemic area and you travel to a malaria hotspot, you are at risk of catching malaria, as you have not built up immunity against the disease. You are also at risk if you are pregnant, immuno-compromised or a young child in an endemic area.

There is no cure or vaccine as of yet for malaria but treatment is effective at reducing the chance of death. Anti-malarials are given both to treat malaria and to prevent you from catching the disease. They are usually given through combination therapy, as there are certain strains of the disease that are drug resistant. When you travel, you are given malarial tablets to help reduce the chance of becoming infected and these are a necessity if you are travelling to a country that has incidences of malaria. Talk to your doctor about further advice before travelling and make sure you understand the risks of malaria.

Causes of Malaria ยป