If you look around at dusk,especially where the environment is untidy or has poor drainage,you will notice some tiny insects flying around and biting you.’’YUM-YUM-YUM’’, the insects fly past your ears.These are mosquitoes that suck blood once we allow them to perch on our skins.Apart from the nuisance these tiny creatures create,they are usually carriers of another organism(plasmodium) which they exchange for our blood;whenever they suck blood,they give us these organisms in return. Most times,when you have fever,headache and you start to shiver,it could be the result of these dangerous ‘’exchange’’.If it is so,then it is said that you have a malaria.
Malaria is a febrile infectious disease caused by a protozoan parasite,plasmodium.It affects all age groups;infants,children, and adult.The plasmodium lives in both male and female anopheles mosquitoes.It has five different species.Four of which are: P. falciparum
Of all these species,falciparum is the most virulent and it is mostly found in the tropics.The anopheles mosquitoes breed in clear stagnant water.
HOW IS PLASMODIUM TRANSMITTED?
The parasite,plasmodium,is transmitted through the bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito.The plasmodium is found in the saliva of the mosquito which is injected into human circulatory system during the mosquito’s blood sucking activities. Interestingly,the anopheles female mosquito also gets infected by sucking the blood of an infected person with plasmodium.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MALARIA?
The characteristic symptoms of malaria include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Headache and muscle ache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry cough and sometimes diarrhoea
Liver or kidney failure,central nervous system problem,coma,shock and bleeding may be developed by individuals with severe P.falciparum malaria which can ultimately cause death.Often,when malaria is not treated adequately,it may lead to cerebral malaria,a life threatening condition which is characterised by coma,altered mental status or seizure.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE AT HIGH RISK?
Generally, people who have reduced immunity or are immune-compromised are usually at high riskof malaria infection. Some of them are:
People living in mosquito-laden environment
The major contributor to the persistence of malaria in our society is poor sanitation. If the vector,anopheles mosquito,has no home to breed,then we will win the battle against malaria.Essentially,the first step in preventing malaria is through proper and adequate environmental sanitation.In case the first step is not 100% achievable,like in our environment,the second preventive measure is protection from mosquito bite.This could be achieved either through the use of insecticide-treated mosquito net or insecticide aerosol.The third preventive method is chemotherapy. This is an anti-malaria medication given to an uninfected person in view to preventing malaria infection. It is usually given when a person is travelling to a malaria endemic country or state. Another effective way to prevent mosquito bites is by wearing long thick socks and hand gloves at dusk and to bed.
HOW IS MALARIA TREATED?
The drugs used for malaria are called anti-malarial drugs. There various types of these drugs based on their components.While the rampant P.falciparum is resistant to most of these drugs,other species of the plasmodium are affected by most of anti-malarial drugs.However, it is important to note that most people who died of malaria would have taken some types of anti-malarial drugs which are bought over the counter. Malaria should be regarded as serious disease and therefore adequate treatment must be sought from proper health care centres. The recommended drug by the Ministry of health of Nigeria ACT-Artemisinin Combination Therapy. There are many products of this combination on the counter which contain Artemether + Lumefantrine. These drugs are to be taken ONLY under prescription from qualified health personnel.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR BEDROOM MOSQUITO- FREE.
Just as the knowledge of the great consequences of malaria is important,the awareness of the measures towards eliminating the vectors(mosquitoes) from our immediate environment is needed. Although we witness mosquito bites outdoor,most of the bites that lead to malaria are indoor. Our bedrooms are suitable recreational sites for mosquitoes.They could have many hideouts right inside our bedrooms.Therefore,it is essential to know how to keep these unwanted roommates away from the room. Make sure you free your room from too much loads. These could be good hideouts for the insects during the day.Make sure there is mosquito net in the window. Always keep the door closed.Mosquitoes are attracted by bright light. Mop spilled water on the floor thoroughly. Use insecticides.
Care must be taken when using insecticides as most insecticides are poisonous.
Mosquito coils are the most dangerous,as the smoke released is hazardous to health.The smoke coming out of coils is more dangerous than the smoke from cigarette.Therefore,whenever insecticides or coils are used,the room should be free of their fumes before sleeping.