25th April is celebrated as World Malaria Day all around the world. The day is celebrated to raise awareness about Malaria to prevent it. So, this World Malaria Day, let’s become more aware of the disease to fight it better and preserve lives. 

Today, in this blog, we will be answering some of the most common questions asked about Malaria.

How is Malaria caused? 

Malaria is a life-threatening disease. It is an illness caused by Plasmodium parasites. It is spread through the bites of the infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

Why is the Malaria situation so concerning? 

If it’s not in the news, it doesn’t mean the situation is not concerning. Malaria might not be the talk of the town right now, but the stats are concerning. 

Taking the stats of 2021, around 6,19,000 deaths were reported all around the world. The worldwide count for Malaria crossed 247 million in 2021. India accounted for about 79% of all Malaria cases. The numbers are concerning and demand the immediate attention of the health authorities as well as individuals. 

Is Malaria contagious? How is it spread? 

No, Malaria is not contagious. It is spread through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. The disease is typically found in tropical countries. Five parasite species can cause and spread Malaria in humans. The two of these species –Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum – pose grave threats. As for the anopheles mosquito, which is the carrier of the parasite, there happen to be over 400 varieties of species. Around 40 of these can transmit the disease.

Who is most at risk of being infected with Malaria? 

Everybody is at risk of being infected with Malaria. However, children below the age of 5 are at high risk. As per the figures by WHO, a child dies of Malaria every 2 minutes. This is because infants are not able to form immunity at this young age to fight diseases. Apart from children, pregnant women and those suffering from HIV AIDS are also at high risk. 

What are the symptoms of Malaria?

Fever is one of the most common symptoms of Malaria. The first symptom of Malaria usually begins within 10–15 days after the bite.  The symptom can be any of the following, including a headache, chills, and fever. Initially, the symptoms are usually mild which may pose a challenge in the diagnosis. However, in Malaria endemic areas, there can be no symptoms at all if the dwellers have developed partial immunity. 

How can Malaria be prevented? 

Malaria can prove to be critical and even fatal in some cases, however, it is still treatable and preventable. Health experts recommend wearing mosquito repellents, and full-sleeve clothes and avoiding visiting places with Malaria on the rise. At the same time, you can also consider draping mosquito netting over beds and putting screens on doors and windows. 

Is there a Malaria vaccine?

Yes, the WHO approved the RTS S/AS01 (RTS, S) vaccine in 2021 for children.  The vaccine is administered in four doses in children to reduce the severity of Malaria if infected. However, in India, the vaccine is still in the authorization phase and might be rolled out later in 2023. 

Can you get infected with Malaria twice? 

Yes. You can get infected with Malaria twice. It is a common misconception that Malaria cannot affect somebody twice. However, it is not true. The different species of Malaria can cause Malaria in individuals twice or thrice. For instance, you might have been infected with P. vivax the first time you were diagnosed with Malaria and formed immunity against the variant. However, the next time you contract Malaria from the falciparum parasite, you can be infected.  

What is the prescribed diet if you are diagnosed with Malaria?

It is suggested that you consume a healthy diet if you are infected with Malaria. Drinking filtered water, consuming healthy and easily digestible carbs, and proteins are necessary for a speedy recovery. 

The bottom line

This World Malaria Day, let’s become more aware and do our best to prevent Malaria. Wearing full-sleeved clothes, using mosquito repellents, and being in a clean and hygienic area is important for prevention. The Malaria figures might be concerning now, but with a joint effort, as an individual and society at large, it’s a battle we can fight together and triumph over. 

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