JERSEY COLLEGE SCHOOL OF NURSING
The issue of malaria and its effect on the world is one of grave concern. Many organizations have come together to find ways to eradicate the mosquitoes that cause this deadly disease. Nearly half of the population in the world is at risk of contracting malaria. However, most of the fatal cases of malaria occur in the sub-Saharan Africa, while countries in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East record a smaller number of deaths from malaria. The statistics are alarming, and with the advance in travels, war, and changes in the climatic conditions in the world, everyone is at risk of contracting malaria. The following pages seek to educate the readers on the issue of malaria, the measures that organizations take to stop the re-emergence of this deadly disease. In addition, it looks at the statistics and the reports from the World Health Organization and the Center for Control for Diseases and Prevention.
The very thought of contracting malaria is frightening, because many researches emphasize the high numbers of recorded cases annually. It is even more frightening when one thinks of the number of reported deaths that are linked to this deadly disease. Globalization allows the disease to spread and thereby create a negative impact on the wealth and health of people in every sector of the world. The disease is life threatening, and is passed from one person to another in a short period of time. Researches show that malaria is one of the oldest mass murderers throughout history. In addition, malaria is a chief public health problem in many of the poorest countries in the world. However, there is hope in the knowledge that while malaria is a killer, there are ways to prevent and even cure this deadly scourge of the society.
History and Overview
Finkel (2007) notes Ronald Ross in 1897, as the first person to realize that malaria could be transmitted from an infected patient to mosquitoes. In addition, Ross pointed out that mosquitoes pass on the malaria parasites from one bird to another, which is similar to the way it spreads among humans today. He noted that it created a cycle during the time in which the malaria parasite develops in the mosquito. However, since the discovery of the ways in which the disease is transmitted, the World Health Organization report points to the programs and plans for eradicating malaria. The report points out that “since 2000, a tremendous expansion in the financing and coverage of malaria control programs has led to a wide-scale reduction in malaria incidence and mortality.” The organization indicates that based on the data collected, fifty-nine out of one hundred and three of the countries that had constant malaria transmission in 2000, have set goals to reverse the prevalence of malaria (World Health organization, n.d.).
Many researchers note that malaria takes the lives of more people than any of the other transmissible disease apart from tuberculosis. Currently, Africa and other developing countries,spend millions of dollars in their medical fields to fight the disease. Many medical experts note that malaria is curable if diagnosed promptly and accurately. Malaria is classified as a mosquito-borne disease that is caused by the parasite plasmodium. Recently, the majority of the cases in the United States have been recognized in individuals who acquired the deadly disease after visiting sub-tropical and tropical regions such as Central America, Haiti, Dominican Republic, South America, India, Africa, The Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.The majority of the deaths that occur from malaria are connected to African children. Other groups include pregnant women, refugees, laborers, and foreign travelers visiting these endemic regions. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO), points to the harsh reality that approximately 350 million people across the world will experience malaria at one time or the other, and from this figure nearly two to three million individuals will die from the disease. The disease is prevalent in approximately one hundred and six countries around the world.
Reasons for the spread of Malaria
The increased threat of the disease is largely associated with the growth and development of projects in the undeveloped nations, predominantly in Southeast Asia and the Amazon basin. In addition, the increase in the spread of malaria is connected to poor health services and facilities, political upheavals, global warming, and armed conflicts. In addition, the increase is due to the parasite’s growing resistance to the new drugs. The increase in international travel adds to the re-emergence of malaria in developed countries that eradicated malaria.The seriousness of the disease only surfaced in recent years because the virus has entered the more affluent countries in the world. As the disease continues to spread in the tropic and sub-tropic regions, and in particular, Africa, many countries are virtually collapsing from the prevalence of malaria in these countries.
The Anopheles mosquitoes spread malaria among individuals. The mosquito bites an individual and sucks the blood from that individual. If the malaria parasite is present in the individual’s system, the mosquito sucks the parasite along with the blood. The parasites multiply inside the mosquitoes’ stomach, and then make their way to the salivary glands. As soon as the mosquito bites another individual, the parasite goes into the individual’s bloodstream, along with the saliva that is rich with the malaria parasites. The transmission appears to be very simple, but it is this simple process that is responsible for the many deaths that are associated with malaria. The malaria parasite reproduces at three stages in its life cycle: in the live, the red blood cells, and in the stomach of the mosquito. The real horror is in the vast number of offspring that are produced rapidly. In humans, malaria is caused by the protozoon of the genus Plasmodium, and an additional four subspecies: falciparum, vivax, malariae, and ovale (Medical Research Papers, n.d.). While there are a number of species in Africa, the falciparum causes the largest number of malaria related illnesses and death.
Individuals who are most likely to succumb to malaria are those who have no previous immunity to the disease: mainly children and those from sections of the country where the disease does not exist. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (n.d.) note “falciparum is a major reason nearly twenty percent of all Zambian babies does not live to see their fifth birthday”. Medical researchers conclude that there are a number of factors that contribute to the reappearance of malaria in the world. These include the quick increase in the parasite’s resistance to the drugs chloroquine and quinolines which are used to treat malaria patients; the regular wars and civil unrest in a number of countries which force the individuals to settle in regions that are high in the transmission of malaria; the financial constraints that force individuals to migrate to areas that are high in malaria transmission; the changes in the pattern of rainfall that allows dams and irrigation schemes to create breeding sites for mosquitoes; poor socioeconomic situations that leads to a reduction in the health budgets, hence a reduction in proper health care conditions; high birth rates which leads to an increase in the vulnerable populace under five years of age; and the changes in the behavior of the anopheles mosquitoes and in particular their biting habits as they move from indoor biters to outdoor biters.
Signs and Symptoms
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention “people who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness.” In addition, “there are approximately one thousand five hundred cases of malaria diagnosed in the United States annually” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d). These cases are closely linked to immigrants and to those who travel to countries where there are cases of malaria. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention helped eradicate malaria as one of the main public health crisis in the United States during the latter part of the 1940s. Nevertheless, there are cases of malaria in the country. The symptoms of malaria varies, but the most common symptoms are fever that can reach a high of one hundred and six degrees, severe headaches, joints and muscle pains, vomiting, chills, vomiting, abdominal pains, and coughing. One should note that the initial symptoms materialize within seven to twenty-one days of the mosquito bite. At first the symptoms are mild, and comparable to the flu-like symptoms. However after the diagnosis, there is a two hour period where the individual experiences all of these symptoms. This period passes, and the individual feels weak, but better than before. The main symptom of malaria is fever, and the most brutal symptom is cerebral malaria, which is most common in children and individuals who have no previous immunity to the disease, kidney problems, anemia, and other organ dysfunction. Individuals exposed to the disease repeatedly, develop clinical immunity to the disease.
In order to reduce the spread of malaria the society as a whole needs to find simple ways to prevent the mosquitoes from multiplying. One such way is to use nets to keep mosquitoes from biting. However, Egrot et.al (2014) notes the use household bed net is quite low among the population as they cause fire and harm to those who use them. Nonetheless, if one is carful then fires are not likely to start. In addition, individuals need to make an effort to dispose of stagnant water to help to destroy the homes of mosquitoes. One may say that there are countries where people use dirty, stagnant water for household purposes and cannot afford to throw away the waster. The eradication process started in earnest and focused on spraying insecticide on houses. The process included the use of insecticide laced with “anti-malarial drug treatment” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC n.d). The steps to eradicate the anopheles mosquito are simple. It includes: “preparation, attack, consolidation, and maintenance” (CDC n.d). There was widespread success in many countries such as India and Sri Lanka. The success also spanned to countries with moderate climates and cyclictransmission of malaria. On the other hand, countries such as Nicaragua, Indonesia, Haiti, and Afghanistan had insignificant results. There were some nations that were excluded entirely from the campaign against malaria and this would explain the current level of malaria and malaria related diseases in the country.
There are different ways to treat malaria. Firstly, one can use “home remedies” where the individual takes preventive measures before travelling to remote areas where malaria is common. However, these measures work id taken in the correct dosage and at the correct time. Secondly, individuals can take “anti-malarial” medications to prevent and treat the disease. It is important to note that treatment for malaria depends on the type of parasite present in the body. Thirdly, individuals infected with the life threatening Plasmodium (P.) falciparum form of malaria need intravenous treatment rather than oral treatment. Standard drug treatments for malaria include chloroquine, doxycycline, malarone, mefloquine, and primaquine. Finally the most extreme treatment for malaria is “exchange blood transfusion” (CDC). This measure is the easiest way to remove the parasites from an individual’s system. The procedure is simple and involves removing the blood while the donor blood is injected at the same time.
The re-emergence of malaria is a cause for concern. The global travelling, migration and changes in the patterns of rainfall help to foster the spread of the anopheles mosquito that causes malaria. With the advancement of science and research, there are now new ways to prevent the spread of malaria today. The dawn of the new millennium brings medical drugs that can be taken before, during, and after one travels to or from the regions that have the deadly disease. Therefore, one simply has to be aware of the symptoms of malaria, and week medical treatment as soon as they feel the symptoms of malaria. In addition, the agricultural sector has developed new insecticides that can keep the spread of malaria under control. However, there are other simple ways to prevent the spread of the disease. These measures include using nets at windows to keep the mosquitoes out; taking care to dispose of stagnant water that breeds mosquitoes; and using insect repellants to keep away mosquitoes. The reality is that a single bite can be fatal therefore; the best way to prevent more fatality is to take steps to eradicate the breeding sites for mosquitoes.
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