Malaria - the facts you need to know and how to prevent the illness
Every 30 seconds malaria kills a child in Africa - we find out what you need to know about the illness and how to prevent it
Did you know that studies have found that every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies of malaria? Although some experts claim that this is actually every 2 minutes, the facts remain true - the disease is a serious and very common one in Africa.
Around 300 to 600 million people suffer from malaria every year in Africa.
Malaria slows down schooling and development in Africa as a number of kids who survive a serious attack of malaria will later develop physical and mental issues.
The lack of access to quality and private healthcare is a big problem as many people cannot afford to get the medical help they need from a private hospital and government hospitals lack the staff and equipment.
But, if you have health insurance, which is basically the affordable alternative to medical aid, you can get access to private doctors of your choice from as little as R333 per month with Oneplan. We also pay you BEFORE you see the doctor.
Now, let’s get into the facts on malaria:
What is Malaria?
Malaria is commonly seen in hot and tropical areas. It can cause a mild illness in some people, and a life-threatening one in others. With the proper treatment, the illness can be cured.
The disease is caused by parasites which mosquitoes carry. The tiny (and irritating) bugs pick up the parasite by biting someone who has the disease, then, the malaria is passed to other people when the mosquitoes bite them.
Malaria passes through mosquitoes and very rarely through people. However, it can be passed through blood transfusion, shared needles or organ donation.
What are the symptoms and signs of malaria?
Malaria symptoms will normally develop within 10 days to 14 weeks once the parasite has entered your body. In some cases, it may even take a few months. Some malarial parasites will enter your body and remain dormant (basically, they sleep in your body) for a long period of time.
So you won’t even know you have the parasite!
Some common symptoms of malaria include some of the below:
● High fever
● Shaking and chills
● Sweating profusely
● Abdominal pain
● Muscle pains
● Bloody stools
The fever might rise over 1 to 2 days and then suddenly spike at 40.6°C or higher. Then, the fever will end and the body temperature will quickly return to normal, then an intense episode of sweating will occur.
The same pattern of signs and symptoms which include chills, fever and then sweating can repeat every 2 days or so.
What do I do if I think I have malaria?
If you have any of the above symptoms, then you need to go to your doctor immediately so that he or she can treat you.
How does my doctor diagnose malaria?
Your doctor will diagnose your malaria by looking at your history of your health. He or she will also ask you about where you have travelled to recently and find out if there is malaria in those areas.
Your doctor will also perform a physical exam and take a sample of your blood to test it for the malaria parasite.
The blood tests will find out the following:
● If you have malaria
● The type of malaria you have
● What kind of drugs can treat the parasite
● If the parasite has affected your vital organs
There are some serious life-threatening issues and conditions that malaria can lead to, these include:
● Your blood vessels in your brain can swell
● Fluid can build up in your lungs which can cause breathing issues
● Your organs can fail
● Anemia (lack of red blood cells) because the parasite destroys these cells
● Low blood sugar
How will my doctor treat malaria?
Your doctor will treat malaria using anti-malarial drugs that are given to you by mouth, injection or into your veins.
You might also be admitted into hospital depending on how bad the condition is as your doctor will want to watch for signs of anemia, dehydration and organ damage.
If you have malaria and it is diagnosed and treated early, then it can be cured in about 2 weeks. If you do not seek treatment, the disease can be fatal, especially in malnourished children.
How can I prevent malaria?
Unfortunately there is no vaccine that can prevent malaria.
If you are travelling to an area with malaria, then you can talk to your doctor about what medications to take to prevent it. These medicines will need to be taken before, during and even after your trip.
Sleep under a mosquito net and cover you skin in bug spray.
We hope you stay safe when travelling in malaria areas, remember to go to your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms.
Yours in health,