Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Malaria is a disease spread most commonly by mosquitoes. In 2017, there were approximately 219 million cases of malaria and close to half a million deaths worldwide as a result.
There are many ways to prevent this disease, including decreasing contact with mosquitoes and preventative medication. However, if the disease is contracted, malaria is usually very treatable if identified in good time. Therefore, it is important to take prevention seriously, but also to be aware of the symptoms in order take proactive action if those symptoms present.
A useful way to remember this is the ABCD approach, which includes:
Awareness of risk
Check if preventative medication is needed
There are many effective steps that can be taken to prevent mosquito bites. The most commonly recommended include wearing loose clothing that covers arms and legs, using mosquito repellents and bed nets. Mosquitoes that carry the disease usually bite between dusk and dawn, so these preventative measures need to be put in place primarily during those hours.
Additionally, if you are travelling to a malarial area, speak with your doctor about prevention medication. There are several options, depending on location, and each medication has slightly different regimes with various possible side effects, all of which need to be taken into consideration.
If you have been in an area with malaria and start to have any symptoms of the disease, it is imperative that you go see a doctor as soon as possible. These include fever, headache and chills, along with other flu-like symptoms. Because they are not particularly remarkable or unique, it is important to be aware and vigilant. If the illness is left untreated, it can become very serious and even deadly.
The only way to confirm that you have malaria is through a blood test. If symptoms present, go see a doctor, tell them that you were in a malarial area and ask to be tested for the disease. If the test is positive, you will be given a prescription medication to kill the parasite. The duration of the treatment will depend on the type of malaria you have contracted, among other factors. If treated quickly, the cure is very effective.
Please be aware that malaria can stay in your body for up to 6 months to a year. Therefore, even if you experience these symptoms long after you’ve returned from a malarial area, it is still very important to get tested by a medical professional.
Scientists are working to find a vaccine for malaria, but that has not yet been accomplished. Until then, preventative measures and a quick response to symptoms are necessary to address the risks of malaria effectively.