Is Malaria Contagious In Nature?
Malaria is a disease caused by the parasite called Plasmodium, which invades the red blood cells in the human body. This parasite is carried by the Anopheles mosquito and is released into the bloodstream of an individual when the mosquito bites them. A blood test is used to diagnose malaria. Malaria is a serious, and sometimes fatal, health issue which needs immediate medical attention.
Malaria is not a communicable disease and does not get transmitted via causal touch, physical contact or sexual activities. It occurs when the causal parasite is transmitted from mosquitoes to humans. Although, malaria is not contagious and does not spread from person to person, pregnant women having malaria can however affect the foetus and pass on the infection to their new born. Malaria can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ donation and sharing of needles during intravenous drug therapies.
What Are The Symptoms of Malaria?
A wide range of symptoms indicate the occurrence of Malaria. Uncomplicated malaria is mainly characterized by flu like symptoms such as high fever, chills, headaches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, weakness, muscle ache, diarrhea and fatigue. Since these symptoms are not very specific, it is vital to evaluate whether the patient is exposed to risk factors for malaria like usual travel in endemic regions. Severe or complicated malaria occurs when various body systems are affected by this illness. For example, cerebral malaria is characterized by confusion, seizures, abnormal behaviour and unconsciousness. Other malarial complications that can occur are kidney failure, severe anaemia, low blood sugar and cardiovascular collapse. It can take anywhere between 7 to 30 days for the symptoms to start showing up after getting bitten by an infected mosquito.
What Is The Incubation Period For Malaria?
Incubation period for malaria basically refers to the time taken for the symptoms to appear from the onset of the initial parasite infection. The incubation period differs according to the specific species of Plasmodium, which causes the infection. For example, incubation period for malaria caused by Plasmodium malariae is 18 to 40 days, Plasmodium falciparum is 9 to 14 days, and Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale is 12 to 18 days.
How Can Malaria Be Diagnosed?
A microscopic examination of blood needs to be conducted to detect the presence of the malaria causing parasites in the body. PCR testing, serology and other tests help to determine whether the parasite is resistant to certain drugs. It is also very important for people who have taken a tour to malaria endemic regions to inform their health care provider about their travel for at least a year after returning from the trip. This is essential for getting the malarial infection diagnosed accurately.
What is the Treatment for Malaria?
Malaria can be treated with a variety of drugs like quinine, mefloquine, chloroquine, etc. These are generally administered in the form of tablets or pills. In case of patients who cannot take the medicine orally, intravenous treatments are used to administer the medicine. No home remedies are known to effectively cure malaria and medical involvement is always required to treat this illness. Patients are however advised to consume more liquids, drink lots of water and stay well hydrated to deal with malarial symptoms like dehydration and diarrhea.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Malaria?
Severity of the disease, the species of Plasmodium infecting the patient and its potential drug resistance nature determine the treatment, which needs to be administered to manage malaria. In general, it takes about 2 weeks of treatment to cure malaria. However, in certain individuals, relapses are possible.
On experiencing symptoms of malaria, especially within a year of visiting an endemic area, one should immediately inform their medical care giver about their condition and their travel history. Malaria is a serious medical issue which can have life threatening consequences if not treated on time. With proper medical care and supervision, this disease can be diagnosed, treated and prevented effectively.