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Malaria

Definition

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes (female Anopheles mosquito)

Causes:

In the human body, the parasites (plasmodium) multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.

Malaria can be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or the shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood. Malaria may also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn infant before or during delivery ("congenital" malaria).

Malaria Incubation Period

Following the infective bite by the Anopheles mosquito, a period of time to develope first symptoms varies from 7 to 30 days. The shorter periods are observed most frequently with P. falciparum and the longer ones with P. malariae.

P. vivax and P. ovale, can occur again (relapsing malaria). In P. vivax and P. ovale infections, some parasites can remain dormant in the liver for several months up to about 4 years after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. When these parasites come out of hibernation and begin invading red blood cells ("relapse"), the person will become sick.

Malaria disease can be categorized as uncomplicated or severe (complicated).

Symptoms of Malaria

The following are some of the symptoms of Malaria:

Uncomplicated Malaria

The classical (but rarely observed) malaria attack lasts 6-10 hours. It consists of:

• a cold stage (sensation of cold, shivering)
• a hot stage (fever, headaches, vomiting; seizures in young children)
• and finally a sweating stage (sweats, return to normal temperature, tiredness)

More commonly, the patient presents with a combination of the following symptoms:

• Fever
• Chills
• Sweats
• Headaches
• Nausea and vomiting
• Body aches
• General malaise.

Physical finding are:

• Elevated temperature
• Perspiration
• Weakness
• Enlarged spleen.

In P. falciparum malaria, additional findings may include:
• Mild jaundice
• Enlargement of the liver
• Increased respiratory rate.

Diagnosis:

• Blood smear under a microscope: Demonstration of parasites
• In P. falciparum additional laboratory findings are mild anemia, mild decrease in blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), elevation of bilirubin, and elevation of aminotransferases, albuminuria, and the presence of abnormal bodies in the urine (urinary casts").

Severe Malaria

Severe malaria occurs when P. falciparum infections are complicated by serious organ failures or abnormalities in the patient's blood or metabolism.

The manifestations of severe malaria include:

• Pulmonary edema (fluid buildup in the lungs) or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which may occur even after the parasite counts have decreased in response to treatment Abnormalities in blood coagulation and thrombocytopenia (decrease in blood platelets)
• Cerebral malaria, with abnormal behavior, impairment of consciousness, seizures, coma, or other neurologic abnormalities
• Severe anemia due to hemolysis (destruction of the red blood cells)
• Hemoglobinuria (hemoglobin in the urine) due to hemolysis
• Cardiovascular collapse and shock

Other manifestations that should raise concern are:

• Hyperparasitemia, where more than 5% of the red blood cells are infected by malaria parasites
• Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Hypoglycaemia may also occur in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria, or after treatment with quinine
• Acute kidney failure
• Metabolic acidosis (excessive acidity in the blood and tissue fluids), often in association with hypoglycemia
Severe malaria occurs most often in persons who have no immunity to malaria or whose immunity has decreased.

Other Manifestations of Malaria

• Neurologic defects may occasionally persist following cerebral malaria, like movements (ataxia), palsies, speech difficulties, deafness, and blindness.
• Recurrent infections with P. falciparum may result in severe anemia.
• Malaria during pregnancy (especially P. falciparum) may lead to premature delivery or delivery of a low-birth-weight baby.
• Rarely P. vivax malaria can cause rupture of the spleen or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
• Nephrotic syndrome (a chronic, severe kidney disease) in chronic or repeated infections with P. malariae.
• Hyperreactive malarial splenomegaly (also called "tropical splenomegaly syndrome") abnormal immune response to repeated malarial infections.
• Enlarged spleen and liver, abnormal immunologic findings, anemia, and a susceptibility to other infections (such as skin or respiratory infections).

Homeopathic treatment for Malaria

Prevention of malaria can aim at either:

• preventing infection, by avoiding bites by parasite-carrying mosquitoes, or
• Preventing disease, by using antimalarial drugs prophylactically.
• Malaria Prevention and Control in Endemic Areas

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