Malaria (also called fever, black water fever, malaria, plasmodium, Quartan malaria, and tertian malaria) is one of the most infectious and most common diseases in the world. This serious, sometimes-fatal disease is caused by a parasite that is carried by a certain species of mosquito called the Anopheles. It claims more lives every year than any other transmissible disease except tuberculosis. Every year, five hundred million adults and children (around nine percent of the world’s population) contract the disease and of these, one hundred million people die.
Children are more susceptible to the disease than adults, and in Africa, where ninety percent of the world’s cases occur and where eighty percent of the cases are treated at home, one in twenty children die of the disease before they reach the age of five. Pregnant women are also more vulnerable to disease and in certain parts of Africa, they are four times as likely to contract the disease and only half as likely to survive it. The most common sites of malaria-carrying mosquitoes is in tropical and subtropical areas with warm climates. Also, there must be a source of water, such as a lake, ocean, or stream, because this is where the mosquitoes breed. While Africa is the site of most malaria cases, there are a few other countries that account for some of the malaria cases. In fact, in 1990, seventy-five percent of all recorded malaria cases outside Africa were condensed in nine countries, which were India, Brazil, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and China.
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There was once a small malaria epidemic in the United States. It occurred mainly in Army families. This was because U. S. troops in other countries were not on the proper medication, contracted the disease, and brought it back to the United States.
Malaria in humans is caused by four species of protozoa, sophisticated one-celled organisms, that can infect red blood cells. These four species are called Plasmodium, plasmodium viva x, plasmodium malaria e, and plasmodium ovale. The worst cases are caused by the Plasmodium species, which is also the species with the most resistance to drugs. To contract malaria, a mosquito, but not just any mosquito must bite a human.
The only type of mosquito that can infect humans with the malaria virus is the Anopheles mosquito. While there are around three hundred eighty species of the Anopheline mosquito, only about sixty are actually able to spread the disease to humans. Also, only female mosquitoes can distribute the disease, as male mosquitoes do not feed on humans. Mosquitoes pass malaria to humans through their salivary glands.
Once the parasites have entered the blood stream, they go to the liver. In the liver they mature and undergo reproduction, forming merozoites. These merozoites enter the blood stream and inject themselves into red blood cells. Once inside the blood cells, they reproduce rapidly and within forty-eight to seventy-two hours, the blood cell bursts, releasing hemoglobin into the blood stream.
It is the destruction of these blood cells and the hemoglobin released into the blood stream that actually causes most of the symptoms. While the most common way malaria is transmitted is from mosquitoes to humans, there are other ways of catching the disease. One way is from mother to her unborn child. When a disease is contracted this way it is said to have been transmitted congenitally. Another way is during blood transfusions. This is why it is important to be tested for diseases such as malaria before you give blood.
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Malaria is diagnosed in two different ways. The most exact way is by an examination of the blood. To do this, a doctor would take a drop of blood, stain it, and look at it under a microscope to see if there were any parasites in it. Diagnosing malaria by the symptoms it causes is not as exact as blood examination, but is used a lot in Africa, where most cases are treated at home.
In most cases, symptoms appear in ten to forty days. However, they can appear as early as eight days after the bite and as late as one year after the bite. One species of the parasite has been known to remain dormant in the liver for up to four years. Malaria has a lot of symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, renal (liver) dysfunction, sweating, muscle pain, and even coma. The symptoms of malaria are some of the same symptoms associated with the flu and that is why so many cases of malaria are improperly diagnosed every year. When traveling to an area of the world that is high in malaria-carrying mosquitoes, you should take certain precautions. The best way to prevent a case of malaria is to take prescription drugs.
You should begin taking the drug two weeks before you arrive and continue taking the drug for four weeks after you leave. However, getting the necessary vaccinations does not necessarily mean that you will not contract the disease. There are other precautionary steps you should take before traveling to a malaria-risk area. You should wear insect repellent on all exposed skin, use flying insect spray in the room where you are sleeping, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and remember to use screens on windows and doors. Also, know that just because the locals don’t get malaria doesn’t mean that you wont. This is because after living in an area with so much malaria around, people begin to develop resistance to it.
One of the best ways to get rid of malaria is to spray a chemical called DDT. DDT has been used since the late 1940 s, but it is not used anymore. This is because there is evidence that suggests it has negative effects on wildlife. For example, when DDT gets into the systems of different birds, it can cause them to lay eggs with very weak shells that break easily.
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An excess of DDT use in America is credited with the result of bald eagles dying out. Supporters of DDT argue that since there are no human side effects, we should use DDT in areas with lots of deaths due to malaria. They say that it could be better to kill a couple of birds than to let hundreds of humans die. Critics of DDT say that there wouldn’t even be that much of a difference in the number of humans who die from malaria because in some high-risk regions, the mosquitoes have become resistant to DDT due to overuse. Some countries with malaria outbreaks are using DDT anyways, saying that the effect it has on wildlife is an acceptable consequence to keeping hundreds of human lives. Currently, there are a few different research projects dealing with malaria.
For example, Dr. D. Lall oo is working on a project investing the effects of malaria in adolescents. Professor D. H. Molyneux is doing a research project on the effects of malaria on the HIV virus.
Professor M. E. Molyneux is working on a project looking at diseases connected with malaria. There are also many other research projects investigating other aspects of malaria, such as a vaccine for this deadly disease. While malaria is a curable disease if noticed early enough, there are still hundreds and hundreds of deaths due to malaria every year.
This is because not everyone has access to the medicines that can be used to prevent this awful disease. In the last couple of years, a lot of progress has been made in developing a cure or vaccine for malaria. Hopefully, one will be developed within the next few years. Works Cited World Book Millenium 2000, pages 95-96 The New Complete Medical and Health Encyclopedia Volume Two, pages 591-593 Encyclopedia of Family Health, pages 993-996 web.