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This essay discusses the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and the social and economic importance of the infectious disease malaria. Malaria is an infectious disease and it is mosquito borne. It is caused by a eukaryotic organism of the genus Plasmodium. Malaria is a widespread infectious disease, it occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical region of the world such as America, Asia and Africa. Malaria takes between one and 3 million lives each year, most of these deaths being young children in sub Saharan Africa. Poverty is one of the major causes of Malaria, and it can indeed be a major hindrance to economic and social development.
There are a number of difference species. Plasmodium falciparum is the most widespread, but Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae also cause malaria. Malaria is spread by a vector. Plasmodium malariae, is the only species of malaria capable of affecting other organisms, otherwise, all parasites of malaria have only one host; human beings. The female Anopheles mosquito carries the Plasmodium from an infected person to an uninfected person. Female Anopheles mosquitoes feed on blood. They have mouthparts that are adapted as a fine tube or a proboscis. This is used to penetrate a blood vessel and withdraw blood. Malarial parasites live in the red blood cells of the human host and feed on the haemoglobin.
Symptoms of Malaria may possible develop seven days after arrival, or the symptoms may take as long as three months to develop upon leaving a malarious area. Symptoms of malaria are often mild in the initial stages, resembling influenza. Some of the other symptoms of malaria include a body ache, fatigue, headaches, diarrhoea, and fever. The symptoms mentioned, however are often the same as that of influenza and the symptoms can easily be overlooked. As the number of parasites increase in the personâ€™s blood, Deterioration can then be sudden and dramatic. A high swinging fever may develop. When the malaria parasite numbers continue to increase to a serious nature, the involvement of the kidneys or the brain may then follow. All persons possibly exposed to malaria that develop any influenza like illness or fever within seven days of entering a malarious area, or three months of departing a malarious area should seek medical attention, and have blood tests taken.
It was in 1880 when Charles Laveran first visualised the malaria parasite in blood and since then the mainstay of malaria diagnosis has been the microscopic examination of blood. Although blood is the sample most frequently used to make a diagnosis, both saliva and urine have been investigated as alternative, less invasive specimens. However, some areas and countries cannot afford to invest in even simple laboratory diagnostic tests, so these countries often use the occurrence of a fever as the indication to treat malaria. Microscopic examination of blood is perhaps the most preferred economic and reliable diagnosis of malaria. This is because each of the four major parasite species has specific characteristics that can be identified this way.
A number of medicines are available worldwide that can treat malaria. Some of these medicines that are used to treat malaria are the same ones used to help prevent the infection. If a medicine is taken to prevent malaria, the same medicine cannot be taken again to treat malaria. The Treatment used for each malaria patient is dependent on a few factors, including: the parasite that has caused the infection, how severe the condition has become and the health condition of the patient. For people with severe cases of malaria, blood transfusions are usually carried out. Various drugs may also be used to help get rid of the parasite. Mosquito eradication and nets are also ways of preventing malaria, particularly in less developed countries such as Africa.
Medicines come with side-effects such as skin rashes, stomach pains and fever.
The standard treatment for non- Plasmodium falciparum malaria is chloroquine tablets. It can be taken if the infected person is pregnant. The side-effects of chloroquine can include vomiting, diarrhoea and itching.
If one has malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale, longer-term treatment will be required to stop the infection coming back, because parasites can stay in the liver. Humans that are infected with malaria migrate, and over time the disease will slowly spread throughout the tropics. Therefore, it is difficult for scientists to contain the disease and there is currently no definite cure for malaria.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) maintains that good health is a human right. Poor health causes a lot of suffering. Ill health also has an economic cost as a result of the need to provide medical services, and due to the loss of productivity. People who are ill cannot work. In many parts of the world, people do not have access to the basic requirements for good health. In many less economically developed countries, some of the aspects that may contribute to poor health are: poverty, lack of shelter, lack of water and poor hygiene and nutrition. Malaria kills about 3 million people each year. About 300 million people are affected by malaria worldwide, and the number is increasing. Malaria is limited to the areas in which the vector mosquito, Anopheles, can survive. This is currently the tropical regions. Of all the people with malaria, 90% live in sub-Saharan Africa. With the onset of global warming, the Anopheles mosquito may soon be able to survive further north, even in parts of Europe.
Socially, people can lose members of their family or very close friends to malaria. Also, malaria can have a big impact on less economically developed countries, for example, losing a president or prime minister to malaria in Saharan Africa where many countries are going through a civil war and poverty is on the increase. In Saharan Africa children often get a recurrent infection, which makes them significantly impaired in the sense that they suffer from other health effects such as anaemia which significantly impairs their growth. It can also have a vast effect on schooling, meaning that the individual person as well as the community cannot develop to its full potential.
Shilan Aziz. ïÂŠ