Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. It is caused by a parasite of the genus Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes.
The symptoms of malaria typically include fever, chills, and headache. In severe cases, it can cause jaundice, seizures, coma, or death. Symptoms usually begin 10 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later. In those who have recently survived an infection, reinfection usually causes milder symptoms. This partial resistance disappears over months to years if the person has no continuing exposure to malaria.
There are five species of Plasmodium that can infect humans:
- Plasmodium falciparum: This is the most deadly species of malaria. It is responsible for most deaths from malaria worldwide.
- Plasmodium vivax: This is the most common species of malaria. It is less severe than P. falciparum, but it can still be deadly.
- Plasmodium ovale: This species is less common than P. vivax, but it can be just as severe.
- Plasmodium malariae: This species is the least common species of malaria. It is usually a mild infection, but it can become chronic.
- Plasmodium knowlesi: This species is found in Southeast Asia. It is similar to P. falciparum in terms of severity.
Malaria is preventable and curable. There are a number of ways to prevent malaria, including:
- Using insect repellent
- Sleeping under a mosquito net treated with insecticide
- Taking antimalarial drugs
If you think you may have malaria, it is important to see a doctor right away. Malaria is a serious disease, but it is treatable if caught early.
Here are some additional facts about malaria:
- Malaria is a major public health problem in many parts of the world, especially in Africa.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria and 627,000 deaths from malaria in 2020.
- Children under 5 years of age are most at risk of dying from malaria.
- Malaria can be prevented by using insect repellent, sleeping under a mosquito net treated with insecticide, and taking antimalarial drugs.
- Malaria is curable if caught early.
If you are traveling to an area where malaria is common, it is important to take steps to protect yourself from infection. Talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent malaria for your trip.