Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted through mosquitoes that have afflicted the human race over the millennia. The disease imposes a great socio-economic burden on humanity. According to the latest WHO report, India ranks fourth in infections and deaths caused by malaria. Children, pregnant women, and travelers are more prone to get malaria.
The female Anopheles mosquito exchanges Plasmodium parasites from its saliva into the individual’s blood. The parasites, after entering the bloodstream, move up to the liver and reproduce itself. Within 48 to 72 hours the parasites invade to red blood cells and multiply inside the RBC which results in the infected cells to burst open. Each time they burst, the person will experience a bout of fever, chills, and sweating.
Out of different subspecies of Plasmodium, only five are dangerous – P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malarie, P. falciparum and P. knowlesi. As malaria is transmitted by blood, it can likewise be transmitted through a transfusion, an organ transplant, and the utilization of shared needles. But, this is very rare.
The Plasmodium parasites that causes malaria in humans are:
• Plasmodium falciparum – This is the most common malaria parasite mainly found in Africa. Most of the time the parasite is responsible for deaths worldwide.
• Plasmodium vivax – These causes milder symptoms compared to Plasmodium falciparum. They stay in the liver for up to 3years, due to which there is a risk of reoccurrence. Commonly found in Asia and South America.
• Plasmodium ovale – Fairly uncommon and if occurred, can remain in the liver for several years without producing symptoms. Usually found in West Africa.
• Plasmodium malarie – The occurrence is quite unusual. They are only found in Africa.
• Plasmodium knowlesi – Malaria caused due to this parasite is very rare and found in parts of southeast Asia.
Malarial infection is generally characterized by the following signs and symptoms:
• Fever with chills
• Nausea and vomiting
• Muscle pain and fatigue
Other signs and symptoms may include:
• Chest or abdominal pain
A few people who have malaria experience cycles of malarial “attacks.” An attack usually starts with shivering and chills, trailed by a high fever, followed by sweating and returns to normal temperature. The signs and symptoms typically begin within a few weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, some types of malaria parasites can lie dormant in the body for up to a year.
High fiber rich foods like whole grain cereals should be avoided by patients affected with Malaria. Instead, fruits and pulses should be increased in the daily food as they provide adequate nutrition. Eating fried and processed foods, junk oily and spicy foods should be strictly prohibited. They can aggravate nausea and can disturb the digestion process in the body.