Seeping through every blood vessel in its prey, pumping through the heart at a faster rate then anyone could imagine, sneaking oh so quietly in every crevice of a victims body, while planning its next stab at its cursed host and then flying to its next innocent guest. What could be this horrid sickness that spreads to an average of 250 million people every year? What could possibly claim 781,000 lives in just one year? This disease is called malaria.
Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseaseses and is a huge problem in many countries around the world. It is mostly popular in sub-Sahara Africa, parts of Asia, and the Americas. Malaria by definition is an intermittent and remittent fever caused by a protozoan parasite that invades the red blood cells. The parasite belongs to the genus Plasmodium (phylum Sporozoa) and is transmitted by female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. In easy term it is a infectious disease characterized by cycles of chills, fever, and sweating, caused by a protozoan of the genus Plasmodium in red blood cells, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito. This is because they are the only types that bite humans. There are four types of Plasmodium that can infect and be transmitted by humans. Plasmodium falciparum is one of most dangerous of all the types and is a protozoan parasite. The less severe and more treatable types are plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, and plasmodium malaria. Plasmodium Knowlesi is another type that mostly only affects macaque, a type of monkey. It has been found to infect some humans too. The main cause of spreading these five types of malaria is through female anopheles mosquito caused when they bite an infected human who contain certain parasites and then move on to another human. When an infected female anopheline mosquito first bites its victim, sporozoites is released from the salivary gland of the mosquito and enters the blood stream to quickly invades the liver cells. Sporozoites are quickly cleared from the body within 30 minutes but the parasites in the case of P. falciparum start to multiply. After, individual merozorts invade the red blood cells and start multiplying even more. The bacterium in the blood is called eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. As this bacteria multiplies it causes many symptoms.
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The core symptoms of this disease are fever, chills, headache, sweats, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Some other less common symptoms is dry cough, muscle and/or back pain, and the enlargement of the spleen. The amount of time it takes for the symptoms to show up may be 7 days or 10 entire months. Another factor heavily depended on is the type of malaria you have; for plasmodium falciparium it takes about 9 to 14 days for the symptoms to show up. For P. vivax and ovale it takes 12 to 18 days . For P. malaria it takes 18 to 40 days and for P. knowlesi it takes about 11 to 12 days. The likelihood of surviving depends on the person, the type of malaria they have, and what medications the patient takes.
After much research throughout the years, scientists and doctors have found some medicines, herbs, and prevention strategies that help cure this unbearable disease. The first step to curing malaria is preventing it to begin with. Unfortunately they have not created a reliable vaccine yet, but they have found supplements and other precautions to help keep one from getting sick. Some methods in order to prevent the spread of diseases include drugs, lessening the population of mosquitos and preventing mosquito bites. Some of the medications used to prevent and also sometimes cure malaria in certain locations of the world where malaria is a problem are mefloquine, doxycycline, and a combination of atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride (Malarone). The choice of which drugs someone must take depend on the location they were in or are going which may be a malaria-endemic, and of course the different side effects it may bring. In history, people would use Quinine (a white crystal like substance containing fever reducing, painkilling, anti inflammatory properties.) to help cure. As time has progressed the use of this has been lessened as scientists and doctors have found new ways to help treat and prevent. Another way they try to prevent malaria is by eliminating an over population of mosquitoes. This type of prevention has been effective in the United States and southern Europe where malaria is hardly spread anymore. Some of the procedures they use are draining the wetland breeding ground for mosquitoes, using better sanitation, the use of pesticides DDT, removing or poisoning the breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and a not so widely used or known is using genetically modified mosquitoes that are resistant to plasmodium. All of these have an effect on the spread of malaria. Another way to prevent the spread of malaria is by preventing mosquito bites. One way they are trying to prevent them is by mosquito nets. Scientists have made special nets that have been treated with insecticides that kill any mosquito that gets near the net. These treated nets have been proven to be 70% greater protection then no net at all, because the anopheles mosquitoes feed at night. As time has gone on, many people and organizations have been raising awareness and campaigns to help stop malaria. Many organization try and teach people about malaria which helps by 20% in reducing the disease. Also, many scientist work on inventing new preventers and curs for malaria.
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If one ends up getting malaria even after all the prevention, there are certain ways to treat it. For an uncomplicated type of malaria most patients just take oral drugs (drugs you may take for two or four months.) In other types such as Plasmodium Falciparum it is most recommended a person take artemisinins in combination with other artemisinin-combonation therapy and ATC to prevent immunity to the artemisinins. Until recently, Quinine was used to treat malaria, but scientists have recently proven artesunate to be more effective in children and adults.
A person who has survived and experienced the effects of malaria is 54 year old Ted Payne, who had malaria when he was 32-33 after his trip as a short term missionary to YaoundÃÂ© Cameroon, Africa. He first began to notice that might have malaria was when he began to get very weak and had a fever. The doctors of course discovered it by observing his weakness and fever. When he first realized he had malaria his first thought was ââ‚¬Å“ Boy, my head hurts! I think I need to Throw up!ââ‚¬Â and his physical reaction was, he did throw up. He then had to take Quinine till his ears started ringing for three days! He didnââ‚¬â„¢t have to take any vitamin since it is a parasite in the blood that destroyers red blood cell. Thankfully he recovered and is not suffering from any after effects. There are many more people in the world that have felt and/or are feeling like he did.
A little innocent mosquito may not seam harmful when we look at it , but that one little mosquito and that one little microscopic parasite can cause whole populations to diminish to just the bare dust on the ground.
WORK CITED ~
(1 Wikipedia contributors. "Malaria." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Apr. 2011.
(2 World Malaria Report 2008. "Scientific Facts on Malaria Status & Challenges of the Epidemic." GreenFacts - Facts on Health and the Environment. 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.greenfacts.org/en/malaria/index.htm>.
(3 "Malaria-Symptoms." WebMD - Better Information. Better Health. 8 May 2009. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/malaria-symptoms>.
(4. Unknown. "Malaria: Definition from Answers.com." Answers.com: Wiki Q&A Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.answers.com/topic/malaria>.
(5. Medical Author: Charles Davis, MD, PhD. "Malaria Symptoms, Treatment, Cycle, Prevention in Children and During Pregnancy by MedicineNet.com." MedicineNet.com. Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.medicinenet.com/malaria/article.htm>.