While malaria is a disease that can be treated and prevented, it is also a disease with very serious consequences. Malaria can be life threatening, which is why it is important that people are aware of this disease. Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transferred by a mosquito to a human. If there is an early diagnosis of malaria, it can be treated quickly, reducing the likelihood of complications caused by the disease.
Malaria takes its name from the Italian language dating back to the 18th century. The word can be split into two, with “mala” meaning bad and aria standing for air. There was an initial belief that malaria was caused by the bad quality of air in areas which were marshy. However, there was a discovery in the late 1800s that malaria was actually caused by a female mosquito biting a person. It is said that close to 40% of the world’s population is at risk of catching malaria but it has been effectively eradicated from most of the countries in the world which are not tropical nations.
According to figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2010, around 660,000 people passed away due to malaria. It was reported that the majority of these people were children in Africa. In the same year, it is believed that there were over 210 million cases of malaria in the world.
Progress is being made in fight against malaria
While malaria is still having a devastating affect around the world, it is preventable and progress continues to be made in the fight against malaria. Since the year 2000, the mortality rates for malaria have fallen by 25%. In the African regions, the same rates are said to have fallen by around 33%. There is clearly a greater awareness and understanding of what malaria can do to people, but there needs to be more awareness about the disease and how it can be prevented.
Given that people who travel into known malaria areas are especially susceptible to catching the disease, there has been a focus on ensuring these people are aware of the steps they should take to reduce their likelihood of contracting malaria. With respect to where malaria occurs, it is believed that around 80% of the total number of malaria cases in the world occurs in as few as 17 nations. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria is said to account for close to 50% of all of the deaths from malaria around the world.
Although malaria is the catch all term for the disease, there are five main types of malaria, which are:
· Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax)
· Plasmodium malariae (P. malariae)
· Plasmodium ovale (P. ovale)
· Plasmodium knowlesi (P. knowlesi)
· Plasmodium falciparum (P. faliparum)
The last form of malaria is the one that is most commonly found in Africa and it is also the one that is the most dangerous. The first three forms of malaria are regarded as being mild forms of the disease and they are not generally regarded as being fatal. However, Plasmodium falciparum is an extremely serious form of malaria and it is extremely common in the Sub-Saharan area of Africa. This is the form of malaria that is most commonly found around the world where malaria is believed to have been eradicated locally. This is due to the number of travellers who visit this part of Africa and then return home with the disease.
A human is infected with malaria when a female Anopheles mosquito bites on the human to be able to feed on the human’s blood. At the same time, this mosquito transfers a parasite to the human. If the mosquito bites a human who is infected with malaria, they take a very small quantity of the parasite in the blood. When this mosquito next eats, they infect the human of who they bite next. This is how malaria is transferred and passed on from person to person.