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Information About Malaria by Allison Griesedieck

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Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that infects a specific type of mosquito that feeds on humans.  The parasite affects the individual bitten by the mosquito then goes into the liver and moves to the blood stream.  This disease can sometimes be fatal.  However, malaria can be cured, most times, if it is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.  It is common in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the people who died from the disease in 2010 were young children.  It is most common in poor tropical and subtropical places where it is a leading cause of death, including, Africa, Eastern Europe, parts of Central and South America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific.  It is hard to control because of the high costs of treatment for poorer countries.

Symptoms for malaria do not occur right away, they can take from 7 to 30 days to appear.  People who get malaria will experience flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, vomiting and diarrhea.  If the disease is left untreated they may develop severe complications and die.   A malaria attack consists of three stages and last between 6-10 hours.  The stages include; a cold stage that causes the person to feel cold and shiver, a hot stage when the person has a fever, headaches and vomiting, and a sweating stage when the person has sweats but then their temperature returns to normal and they will feel tired.  Infections can be categorized as uncomplicated or severe.  Uncomplicated malaria has symptoms like the flu while severe malaria may involve swelling of the brain, trouble breathing, kidney and liver failure, and severe damage to red blood cells or low blood sugar.

People who will be traveling to areas where malaria is present are encouraged to take antimalarial drugs before travel.  Although taking medicine, symptoms can still occur but may be delayed until after the traveler has left the area.  It is important to not only take medicine before a trip, but also during and after the trip to help protect against malaria parasites.  Young children and infants are more at risk than older adults.  Also pregnant women are at risk especially. If someone gets malaria while pregnant it cannot only affect the women but also her child.  Some risks of malaria while pregnant are premature delivery and low birth weight of the baby.

In 2010 the World Health Organization estimated that malaria caused 219 clinical episodes and 660,000 deaths worldwide.  Most of these deaths occurred in the African region.  Of all the people in worldwide, 3.3 billion live in areas that are at risk of malaria.

The treatment for malaria should be done as soon as possible and depends on the severity of the disease, the species of the parasite and where the infection was obtained.  There are multiple antimalarial drugs that can be used to prevent malaria.  Most of the drugs that treat malaria are active against the parasites in the blood, including, chloroquine, mefloquine, quinine, and quinidine.

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CDC-Center for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/

Family Doctor- http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/malaria.printerview.all.html

MedlinePlus- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/malaria.html#cat3

Mayo Clinic- http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2011-mchi/6359.html




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