The Impacts of Malaria

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The Impacts of Malaria

Approximately 300 million people are affected worldwide by malaria and

between 1 and 1.5 million people die from it every year. Malaria is

now mainly confined to Africa, Asia and Latin America having

previously been widespread across the world. The problems of

controlling malaria in these countries are heightened due to

insufficient health structures and poor socioeconomic conditions. The

situation has become more complicated over the last few years with the

increase in resistance to the drugs normally used to combat the

parasite that causes the disease.

Malaria is a serious, parasitic infection that is spread by the bite

of certain mosquitoes. A parasite is an organism that survives by

living inside a larger organism, called a host. Malaria is spread in

three ways. The most common is by the bite of an infected female

Anopheles mosquito. However, malaria can also be spread through a

transfusion of infected blood or by sharing a needle with an infected

person. There are four different species of parasites that cause

malaria. They are:

n the Plasmodium falciparum (which is the most fatal)

n P. vivax,

n P. malariae, and

n P. ovale.

When an infected mosquito bites a person, the parasites enter the

bloodstream and travel to the liver. They multiply in the liver, and

then travel back into the blood, where they continue to grow and

multiply so quickly that they clog blood vessels and rupture blood

cells. When the red blood cells burst, the parasites are released and

then attack other red blood cells. Malaria is not contagious, which

means one person cannot pass it directly to another. However, if a

mosquito that is not infected bites an infected person, it picks up

the malaria parasites.

In likeness to Aids, the malaria virus can be in your body for up to

several months before the initial symptoms develop. Most people

survive a bout of malaria after a 10-20 day illness, but it is

important to spot the symptoms early.
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