Did you know that malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people when they are bitten by a mosquito that is infected? There are actually five different parasite species that can cause malaria in humans. It spreads from person to person when an infected mosquito bites someone and creates blood to blood contact. It can be deadly if left untreated, but powerful drugs that are available today can help most people effectively recover from this disease. Here are some more interesting facts about malaria to consider as well.
1. There’s A Lot of Humans to Eat
The World Health Organization estimates that about half of the entire human population in the world today is at risk of contracting malaria. This means there are about 3.2 billion people right now that could get the disease if were bitten by an infected mosquito. The chances of obtaining malaria, however, are pretty low. About 200 million cases are diagnosed every year and about 584,000 people are estimated to die from the disease annually.
2. Don’t Go to Africa
From the malaria statistics that came out in 2013, 90% of the world’s malaria deaths occurred in Africa. Many of those who die from malaria in Africa are young children, often before they reach their fifth birthday. One of the main reasons why it affects children so often is because they don’t have safe places to sleep at night. Something as simple as a mosquito net over their bed is enough to greatly reduce the chances of contracting this deadly disease.
3. It’s Getting A Lot Better
Thanks to an added level of awareness that comes from a global perspective, there are a number of increased malaria control and prevention measures that have been implemented in high risk areas. This is help to decrease the overall mortality rate of this disease by nearly 50% in the last 15 years. There have been even more dramatic decreases in the fatality rates from African infections. Although there is still a long way to go, the proactive measures that have been already implemented are proving that malaria can be defeated once and for all.
4. It Could Get A Lot Worse Quickly
The World Health Organization recommends that treatment of malaria be used through a core compound called artemisinin. The only problem is that the parasites that cause malaria are beginning to develop a resistance to this compound, just like bacteria are beginning to develop a resistance to the antibiotics that are being used in modern medicine. Resistant parasites have been found in five countries in Southeast Asia so far and over time these rates will continue to spread. Most combination therapies of using artemisinin, however, are still effective.
5. Kill the Bugs for Good
Although sleeping under mosquito nets that are treated with an insecticide is a good first level intervention, nothing beats being able to spray residual lead along the interior of the home to prevent mosquitoes from entering it in the first place. The best mosquito insecticides right now are at least 80% effective and they can last for up to six months. Longer-lasting insecticides are expected to hit the market in the near future.
6. Maybe Sex Isn’t a Good Thing
The population demographic that is most at risk of experiencing a fatality from the malaria infection is pregnant women. Not only are the women themselves at risk of suffering from complications of this disease, but malaria can also cause a spontaneous miscarriage, a premature delivery, and severe anemia in the child and in the mother. Malaria is thought to be responsible for at least one third of all the preventable low birth weight children that are born in the world today. For women who are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, it is important for them to use all of the insecticidal options that are available so that they and their child can have the best health possible.
7. It Hurts the Wallet
One of the greatest tragedies that malaria causes is poverty. This disease has a unique ability to trap a family or quarantine a community so that it is forced into a downward spiral of poverty. People suffering from malaria in these situations become marginalized simply because they cannot afford the treatment that they need for recovery. Sometimes the marginalization is so great that it even prevents people from receiving any healthcare whatsoever.
8. Get a Checkup Right Now
The best way to defeat malaria once it has been contracted is through early diagnosis. This allows for a treatment to be administered during the initial stages of the disease and this helps to reduce symptoms and overall disease progression. The only problem is that early diagnosis and testing is not considered a fundamental right in most at risk populations who are consistently exposed to the threat of malaria.
9. You Can Find It In the United States
Malaria can happen just about anywhere. It can even happen in the United States. Every year, there are about 1500 cases of this disease found. This is because malaria tends to breed in warmer climates where there is a lot of water exposure and mosquito development. There’s also the fact that some forms of malaria may remain dormant within the human body and not cause a person to become ill for up to four years. Most of the time, it takes about a week for malaria to kick in and that it will cause a high fever, headache, chills, and other symptoms that are remarkably similar to influenza.
By knowing these interesting facts about malaria, early interventions can become a regular part of life. Avoid contact with mosquitoes whenever possible, sleep under protective netting that has an insecticide apply to it, and always seek medical help if you feel sick. In doing so, you can prove to malaria that it isn’t going to win this time.