What you need to know about malaria
WHAT IS MALARIA?
Malaria is a serious infection that is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. This parasite enters ones blood stream when bitten by an infected mosquito. The plasmodium travels to it's victims liver where it grows and mulitplies. The infection then spreads to the blood cells, destroys them and releases toxins into the body. If left untreated malaria can be fatal.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR MALARIA?
Malaria is not transmitted by casual contact like the cold or the flu. One must be bitten by an infected mosquito. Therefore, anyone exposed to mosquito bites is potentially at risk. Malaria, however, is transmitted more frequently in those who travel to countries outside the U.S. where the disease is prevalent.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?
People with malaria may experience flu-like symptoms- fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and weakness. People may also experience decreased appetite, nausea, vomitting, and diarrhea. Later stages of the infection may cause seizures, anemia, coma, kidney failure, and shock.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Malaria is diagnosed by a blood test and if identified it is treated with prescription antimalarial drugs.
Malaria prevention is simple; using an insect repellent containing DEET offers the best protection against mosquito bites when you are participating in any outdoor activities. If you are traveling outside the country it is recommended that you speak with your provider about your level of risk and the need to take preventitive medication.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information please check out the Center for Disease Control's Website on Malaria. Here's the link: http://www.cdc.gov/malaria