Malaria is a severe mosquito-borne disease due to a parasite. It is a disease, which if not diagnosed and treated right away, can be life-threatening. A person can contract malaria with only a single bite. Back in 2016, there are 216 million estimated cases of malaria that occurred worldwide with 445,000 people who died. Most of those who were affected and died are children from the African region.
In the United States, there are around 1,700 cases of malaria that are diagnosed every year. Most of these cases are travelers and immigrants who came from countries where there is malaria transmission. Many of them come from South Asia and the sub-Saharan Africa regions. There is a massive danger to malaria that the authorities strictly recommend to get vaccinated.
When bitten with a mosquito infected with the virus, the parasite begins to multiply in the liver and may also affect the red blood cells. Malaria is prevalent mostly in tropical and subtropical countries, such as Africa, Asia, South America, and parts of Europe. It is essential for travelers to these countries have to take malaria prophylaxis before leaving the country.
Travelers must be aware of the symptoms of malaria before they go to areas where there is a high risk of the disease. Those symptoms are:
These symptoms often appear between 7 to 18 days after infection.
In some cases, however, the symptoms do not appear for a year or even longer than that. If you develop symptoms after visiting a disease risk area, make sure to seek a medical help as soon as possible. Make sure that you visit your doctor even if it has been weeks, months or years after you returned from traveling.
If there is a possibility that you may have malaria, the doctor will conduct a blood test to confirm whether you are infected or not. Usually, you can receive the results of the examination on the same day. If found that you are infected, then the treatment can commence right away as well. Your doctor will guide through all of these.
The cause of malaria is the Plasmodium parasite. As mentioned before, this parasite is transmitted through mosquito bites. There are numerous types of Plasmodia parasites. However, only 5 of these types can cause malaria in humans. The female Anopheles mosquitos are the main culprit that spreads the parasite.
This mosquito bites usually at dusk and night. When an infected mosquito bites you, it will pass the parasite into the bloodstream. Transfer from person to person can happen through blood transfusion or the sharing of needles, but cases like this are rare. Vaccines are the primary way you can stay protected from malaria infection.
Prevention is better than cure, and with the danger of malaria, it is better to protect yourself by getting vaccinated. At the same time, you must also maintain protection while staying abroad. In that regard, make sure to discuss your medical history and itinerary with your doctor. Your physician will be able to tell you the appropriate level of protection against malaria, and which travel vaccine you should take.