While your risk of getting malaria depends on your age, history of exposure to malaria, and whether you are pregnant, anyone can get the disease, which can be fatal.
Hollywood actress Rebel Wilson got malaria during a trip as a teenager. “I was a youth ambassador for Australia and got to travel to rural Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique, but while I was there I contracted malaria,” she says, adding “They put me in intensive care, gave me a huge concoction of drugs. I started hallucinating that I was an actress as the Academy Awards and won… It was so vivid and real, when I recovered I knew I had to get back to Australia and start acting training. I did my law degree by day and studied acting at night, but people still thought my brain had been destroyed by malaria and that I was nuts!”
Actor George Clooney had malaria twice, revealing “I guess the mosquito in Juba looked at me and thought I was the bar.” Other stars such as CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and singer Cheryl Cole have also been struck by the disease — Cooper was hospitalised in Kenya after contracting malaria on a trip after graduating high school, and now works with ‘Malaria No More’ to fight the deadly disease; while Cole was struck down with malaria on holiday once and almost died. “It was the scariest thing you could ever imagine for me and for my friends and family,” revealed Cole. “The pain I felt and went through, it’s what so many people go through, all because they don’t have a mosquito net which could save their life. I was lucky; I had the best care I could get. Some people are not so lucky. A £5 mosquito net could keep a child safe and really does help.”
April 25, 2018 marks World Malaria Day, where awareness is raised on the disease and the need for investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control is highlighted. This year’s theme is End Malaria For Good, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is shining the spotlight on prevention — malaria kills more than 400 000 people annually.
Did You Know?
According to the latest estimates from WHO, many countries with ongoing malaria transmission have reduced their disease burden significantly. On a global scale, new malaria cases fell by 21 percent between 2010 and 2015. Malaria death rates fell by 29 percent in the same five-year period.
Know The Facts
Malaria is a life-threatening disease spread by animal or insect bites or stings or by blood products (unclean needles or unscreened blood). This mosquito-borne blood disease is caused by a Plasmodium parasite and transmitted to humans through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. Experts explain that once an infected mosquito bites a human, the parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells
There are various risk factors such as living or traveling in a country nor region where malaria is present; not talking the precautionary medication when travel; ling to those areas; and being outdoors, especially in rural areas, at night when mosquitos that transmit malaria are most active;
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms can be classified in two categories: uncomplicated and severe malaria.
- Uncomplicated malaria: This is when symptoms are present, but there are no signs to indicate severe infection or dysfunction of the vital organs. If left untreated, however, this will become severe malaria. Symptoms typically last six to 10 hours and recur every second day. They include: a sensation of cold with shivering; fever; headaches, vomiting, seizures, and sweats.
- Severe malaria: This is when clinical or laboratory evidence shows signs of vital organ dysfunction. Symptoms include: fever and chills; impaired consciousness; prostration; multiple convulsions; deep breathing and respiratory distress; abnormal bleeding and signs of anemia; clinical jaundice and evidence of vital organ dysfunction. This type of malaria can be fatal if not treated!
Prevention And Treatment
Travellers, hikers, and campers can protect themselves with medication, pest control, clothing, and
nets. There are also vaccines for the disease. Experts explain that those without symptoms may be
treated for infection to reduce the risk of disease transmission in the surrounding population.
Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is recommended by the World Health Organization
(WHO) to treat uncomplicated malaria, however in places where malaria is resistant to ACT,
treatment must contain an effective partner drug.
Seek medical attention for suspected symptoms of malaria as early as possible.
BEWARE! 3 Malaria Myths
There are a bunch of myths surrounding the disease. Here are three of the main ones:
- Myth: Malaria isn’t fatal. Fact: As seen above, it certainly is. However treatment is available if treated on time so don’t wait!
- Myth: Malaria and dengue fever are the same thing. Fact: They have similar initial symptoms and are both contracted from mosquito bites but they are two very different diseases.
- Myth: Certain foods and drinks, like garlic and fizzy tonic water, will keep mosquitos away. Fact: Blood is blood, say experts, so protect yourself .