Malaria is a disease caused by an infection by a parasite called Plasmodium. This disease is transmitted to humans via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito, which is found in some areas of the world such as Africa, Central America and Southeast Asia. Once in the body, Plasmodium is stored in the liver and red blood cells. There are several types of Plasmodium, the most frequently encountered being Plasmodium falciparum, the only one that can cause severe malaria. In general, the initial infection is not a concern, but it is the resurgence that can be involved in life-threatening forms.
When inoculation (the parasite enters the body) occurs, symptoms include:
- a high fever;
- widespread pain: abdominal, joint, muscle, and headache;
- digestive disorders with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea;
- signs of gastroenteritis with a high fever.
The parasite then remains in the body, particularly in the liver, and can cause malaria symptoms with are successive in appearance:
- First, chills appearing suddenly and in less than two hours;
- then, the occurrence of high fever for several hours;
- Finally, significant sweating.
These symptoms occur in cycles of every 2 to 3 days.
Sometimes, neurological signs such as seizures or coma
can evoke cerebral malaria, which can quickly lead to death.
Without support, the disease progresses to an "evolving visceral malaria" with fever, jaundice
- a yellowing of the skin and spleen - and increased spleen size. This is due to the infestation of red blood cells by the parasite.
For the diagnosis of malaria, a doctor will observe the fevers of the patient, their intensity and frequency. A blood test will show a decrease in red blood cells and platelets, and an increase of the specific protein of inflammation, CRP. A microscopic examination of a blood smear will be performed to confirm the presence of malaria, and to characterize the type of parasite involved.
Malaria can be treated by the oral administration of quinine or hospitalization in severe cases.
To prevent malaria, take all necessary precautions before you travel in areas where the parasite is active. The doctor will give the necessary drugs to prevent this, namely antimalarial chemoprophylaxis. Meanwhile, measures to prevent mosquito bites are necessary: insecticides, mosquito nets, long clothes covering the entire body, repellents applied to the body.
Original article published by
. Translated by Jeff