What is malaria?
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. It is also known as malaria. Malaria can be deadly without medical attention, yet it is preventable and curable. According to the World Health Organization, more than 215 million people are infected each year.
How is malaria transmitted?
The disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. Occasionally, infections also occur as a result of blood transfusions, organ transplants, syringe reuse, or congenital infection (from a pregnant woman to her baby). In some cases, symptoms occur as soon as seven days after exposure, while in others it may take months to appear.
What are the symptoms of malaria?
People infected with malaria experience fever and flu-like symptoms, such as chills, headache and muscle aches. In cases where it becomes severe, patients may also suffer from confusion, seizures, liver failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, coma, and potentially death.
Is there a vaccine against malaria?
Currently, there is no commercially available vaccine to prevent malaria, although more than 20 are being tested in clinical trials. However, there are anti-malarial drugs, the application of which depends on the destination. Because none of them guarantee 100 percent protection, it is important that travellers take steps to avoid mosquito bites, such as using repellents and long-sleeved clothing, as well as sleeping nets.
What is the treatment for malaria?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment of this disease depends on the species of virus, the likelihood of drug resistance, the age of the person, and the severity of the infection. If you experience any of the symptoms described above when returning from a malaria-endemic area, you should see a healthcare professional immediately. The longer the disease progresses without medical attention, the greater the risk of serious consequences.
Where is malaria present?
Malaria is present in large areas of Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The following table shows the countries and territories where this disease is endemic in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres.
Global distribution of malaria. (1)
- El Salvador
- Dominican Republic
- French Guiana
- Eastern Sahara
- South Sudan
- Central African Republic
- Burkina Faso
- Ivory Coast
- Sierra Leone
- Equatorial Guinea
- Republic of Congo
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- South Africa
- Saudi Arabia
- North Korea
- South Korea
- East Timor
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
(1) CDC Yellow Book 2018