Malaria: What You Should Know
Advisory by Grace Wang Su Leng, Guardian Pharmacist
What is malaria?
Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans via the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Once inside the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver to further infect red blood cells. There are many species of the Plasmodium parasite. Malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax has the widest occurrence globally while the most dangerous species is Plasmodium falciparum. Typically, malaria is a preventable disease. If contracted despite preventative measures, malaria can still be cured if diagnosed and treated promptly.
What are the symptoms?
Fever, headache, nausea, fatigue and chills are common symptoms of malaria. Severity of the symptoms depend on the parasite strain as well as the individual's immunity level. The incubation period, which is the time between getting infected and the manifestation of symptoms vary with different parasite strains involved, which could be up to several months in the case of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale.
What are the prevention and treatment options for malaria?
Prevention is definitely preferred compared to treatment. Prevention tips include taking anti-malarial medication prior to entering a malaria-prone area and avoidance of mosquito bites by means of using mosquito netting or mosquito repellents. Do consult your healthcare professionals for more information regarding medication that can be taken to prevent malaria.
Treatment should immediately be sought from your doctor once symptoms start to manifest. If left untreated, malaria can be fatal as it disrupts blood supply to vital body organs.