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Friday, October 3, 2008

Cause of Malaria

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Malaria is caused by a microscopic sized parasite called Plasmodium.

This process involves a very complex mosquito - human being life cycle:
A female Anopheles mosquito itself infested with a Plasmodium parasite bites a human being. This parasite which has multiplied in the mosquito salivary glands is then injected into that person's bloodstream.

The Plasmodium parasite then moves to the human liver where it multiplies again. It is later released into the human blood stream which causes the symptoms of Malaria. The infected human being is subsequently bitten by another mosquito which in turn bites and transmits Malaria to another human being.

The commonest forms of Malaria are Plasmodium vivax which is rarely fatal and Plasmodium falciparum which can be fatal. The other forms, Plasmodium Ovale and Plasmodium Malariae are not so important.

Malaria is one of the 10 most prevalent and fatal diseases worldwide. Approximately 1.5 -2.7 million people die from Malaria each year with 300-500 million people infected at any given time.
About 90% of cases are in sub Sahara Africa with most fatalities in young children in remote rural areas.
About another 6-7% of Malaria cases are from India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Colombia and the Solomon Islands.
Indonesia has a relatively low incidence of Malaria especially large cities and major tourist areas e.g. Jakarta and Bali. Risks are greater in remote areas.

Prevention of Malaria-
1. Be aware of the local incidence of Malaria:
Not always easy to get this information.
Overall risk in Indonesia is about 1:50,000 but varies greatly with location eg risk much higher in Irian Jaya than Bali.
Likelihood of contracting Malaria increases with time spent in the area.

2. Reduce exposure to Mosquitoes:
Obsessive prevention of mosquito bites reduces the risk of contracting Malaria about ten -fold.
Use mosquito nets preferably treated with permethrin unless in reasonable standard accommodation in a low risk area.
Spray an aerosol insecticide in your room before retiring.
Use mosquito coils or vapourising mats containing pyrethoid.
Cover arms and legs from dusk to dawn – the time when the female Malaria mosquito bites.
Avoid dark areas or garden areas from dusk to dawn.
Use mosquito repellents preferably those containing DEET eg “RID”, “Tropical Strength AeroGard”, “Autan” (a local brand).
Wear light coloured clothing.
Scent attracts mosquitoes –avoid perfumes and after shaves.

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