Malaria is caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium and is spread to humans by the bite of female Anopheles mosquito that acts as a vector for the transmission of Plasmodium that causes the malarial infection in humans. There are about 5 species known to cause the malaria in humans, which includes P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae and the recently discovered P. knowlesi. The characteristic symptoms of malaria include paroxysm of high fever with chills and sweating.
How is Malaria Transmitted?
Malaria is transmitted to humans by an Anopheles mosquito that has Plasmodium parasite residing in it. It is spread to a human when the mosquito bites the human and the sporozoites present in the saliva of the mosquito is injected into the human blood stream where they travel to the liver and start their life cycle and multiplication in humans. Malaria can only be transmitted through an infected Anopheles mosquito to the humans, if they are not infected then there is no sporozoite in their saliva, hence, no infection transmission occurs. Also, if a mosquito bites a human who has malaria, it gets infected and transmits the parasite to the next person it comes in contact with and bites. The parasite goes through a complex life cycle in both human and mosquito to develop and mature. Malaria being an infectious disease is non-contagious and non-communicable and is not spread by an infected person to a healthy person in most instances.
Is Malaria Spread By Kissing?
Malaria is an infectious disease, but is not a contagious or sexually transmitted disease. It does not spread from person to person by physical contact and definitely does not spread by kissing. The malarial parasite is not present in the saliva of an infected person, though it is present in the saliva of infected mosquito, so it cannot be transmitted by an infected person to another healthy person. However, it is possible that it can be transmitted from one person to another only through blood transfusion, by organ donation and from an infected mother to her offspring during childbirth. Now there are less reported cases of such transmissions as control measures have dramatically reduced these transmissions.
Can a Person Get Malaria More Than Once?
A person can get malaria more than once and does not get immunity after acquiring it once. A person needs to take proper precautions even if one has had the disease once. However, people who grow up at high risk malaria endemic area do develop certain amount of immunity from malaria and are at a low risk of contracting malaria than people who travel to these endemic areas. But, still these people should take precautions to avoid mosquito bite as they are not fully immune from malaria and can still contract the disease. Children and pregnant women are at a greater risk of developing malaria, so proper precautions should be taken to prevent transmission of the disease. Travelers traveling to malaria endemic area should also take proper precaution and prophylactic treatment as prescribed by their physician.
How to Prevent Malaria?
The best way to prevent malaria is to prevent mosquito bites who act as carrier of Plasmodium parasite. To prevent mosquito bites, it is best to wear full sleeve clothing and trouser in place of shorts especially when out in the evening and night when mosquitoes prefer feeding. People can use air conditioning to prevent mosquitoes and if it is not available then one can use mosquito nets treated with insecticides. It is also essential to use mosquito repellants; the best insect repellant contains diethyltoluamide (DEET). These should be applied to the clothing or the exposed part of the skin.
There is also prophylactic treatment available for the travelers who visit areas endemic to malaria. These antimalarial tablets provide protection against malaria; however, these are also only 90 percent effective and it is best to prevent mosquito bite. For proper screening from malaria it is advised to take the right antimalarial and to complete its course as prescribed by your doctor. If after return from these endemic areas one notices symptoms of malaria, one should contact their physician immediately.