Malaria - Are you adequately informed?

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a bug which is transmitted by infected mosquitoesMalaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by protists (a type of Plasmodium). Think of it as a "bug". It begins with a bite from an infected female mosquito, which introduces the "bugs" via its saliva into your blood system, and ultimately to the liver where they mature and reproduce.

The disease causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, which in severe cases can progress to coma or death. Malaria is widespread in Zimbabwe.

The Mosquito

Malaria accounts for many deaths in AfricaThe female Anopheles Mosquito commonly transmits the "bug", which causes malaria in humans.

Anopheles mosquitoes can be distinguished from other mosquitoes by their typical resting position: males and females rest with their abdomens sticking up in the air rather than parallel to the surface on which they are resting.

Adult mosquitoes usually mate within a few days after emerging from the pupal stage. In most species, the males form large swarms, usually around dusk, and the females fly into the swarms to mate.

Zimbabwe Malaria Map :: If you are travelling or live in a malaria area be sure to take precautions to minimize the risks Males live for about a week, feeding on nectar and other sources of sugar. Females will also feed on sugar sources for energy, but usually require a blood meal for the development of eggs. After obtaining a full blood meal, the female will rest for a few days while the blood is digested and eggs are developed. This process depends on the temperature, but usually takes 2–3 days in tropical conditions. Once the eggs are fully developed, the female lays them and resumes host-seeking.

The cycle repeats itself until the female dies. While females can live longer than a month in captivity, most do not live longer than one to two weeks in nature. Their lifespans depend on temperature, humidity, and their ability to successfully obtain a blood meal while avoiding host defenses.

Precautions

  • Avoid being bitten. If you are not bitten, you will not get malaria.
  • You should use insect repellents on your skin and mosquito nets over your bed.
  • Space sprays and mosquito coils etc. are also beneficial.
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers if possible.
  • If you are out-doors cover exposed skin, especially in the evenings .
  • People living in low lying areas should ensure that there is no stagnant water which could become a breeding ground.

Symptoms of MalariaSymptoms

  • Headaches.
  • Nausea and Vomiting.
  • General body weakness, joint and abdominal pain.
  • Urine may be dark or reduced in volume.
  • In some cases a person experiences shivers (chills) and then hot sweats. The attacks occur at intervals of six hours or more.

Drugs for Prevention of Malaria

In Zimbabwe the drugs recommended for prophylaxis are:

  • Deltaprim® (also called Malasone®)
  • In cases of allergy to sulfonamides a combination of Paludrine and Chloroquine can be taken.
  • Doxcycline and Malanil® may be used but require a doctors prescription.
  • The prophylactic drugs should be started before visiting the area and used for 6 weeks after leaving the area. (Malanil need only be used for a week post exposure)

Drugs for the treatment of Malaria

  • With All drugs used to treat Malaria it is important to finish the course to prevent an increase in the resistance of the Bug to the drug.
  • Fansidar and Co-artem and their generic equivalents are available off prescription.
  • We recommend you see a doctor if you think you have malaria or at the least test using a home test kit to ensure you are treating Malaria.

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