Malaria Facts (cont.)
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
In this Article
- Malaria facts
- What is malaria?
- Is malaria contagious?
- What causes malaria?
- What are risk factors for malaria? Is it possible to prevent malaria?
- What are malaria symptoms and signs?
- How do physicians diagnose malaria?
- What is the treatment for malaria?
- What is the prognosis of malaria?
- Is there a malaria vaccine?
- Can malaria reoccur after treatment?
What causes malaria?
Parasites of the genus Plasmodium cause malaria. Although there are many species of Plasmodium, only five infect humans and cause malaria.
P. falciparum: found in tropical and subtropical areas; major contributor to deaths from severe malaria
P. vivax: found in Asia and Latin America; has a dormant stage that can cause relapses
P. ovale: found in Africa and the Pacific islands
P. malariae: worldwide; can cause a chronic infection
P. knowlesi: found throughout Southeast Asia; can rapidly progress from an uncomplicated case to a severe malaria infection
What are risk factors for malaria? Is it possible to prevent malaria?
The prevention of malaria includes several steps.
First, evaluate if malaria is a concern in the area of travel (CDC malaria information by country table). This table will also indicate which medication to take as chemo prophylaxis.
If chemo prophylaxis is recommended, discuss the recommended medications with a health-care professional to determine if they are appropriate. Take into consideration any medical conditions, drug interactions with current medication taken on a continual basis, as well as side effects of the recommended medications.
No medication is 100% effective, and therefore the prevention of mosquito bites is of paramount importance. These preventive measures should include the following:
- Sleeping under bed nets: These should cover all of the bed down to the floor. These nets are most effective if they are treated with an insecticide.
- Clothing: Clothing that covers most of the exposed skin and shoes that are closed can reduce the risk of bites. All clothing should be tucked in, and pants should be tucked into socks to avoid exposure around the ankles. In addition, treating clothes with insecticides can prevent bites even further.
- Apply insect repellent to all exposed skin.
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