Malaria the disease was known of and treated even in ancient times, but it was centuries before the true causes of the disease were understood. In the past, Malaria was thought to be caused by "miasma" (bad air or gas from swamps. Malaria is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus plasmodium . The following four species of plasmodium can produce the disease in its various forms:
- plasmodium falciparum
- plasmodium vivax
- plasmodium ovale
- plasmodium malaria
P. falciparum is the most widespread and dangerous of the four: untreated it can lead to fatal Cerebral Malaria.
Malaria Parasites are transmitted from one person to another by the female anopheline mosquito. The males feed only on plant juices and thus do not transmit Malaria. There are over three hundred species of anopheline mosquito; however, only sixty or so are able to transmit the Malaria Parasite.
Malaria is diagnosed by the clinical symptoms and microscopic examination of the blood. It can normally be cured by antimalarial drugs. Consider the following symptoms:
- pain in the joints and headache
In certain regions, however, the parasites have developed resistance to certain antimalarial drugs, particularly Chloroquine. Patients in regions such as Latin America , Africa , and Asia require treatment with other more advanced drugs. Hospital care must be provided in certain severe cases of Malaria.
Surprisingly, some ancient Malaria treatments were remarkably effective. Artemesia Annua has been used for at least the last 2000 years in China , its active ingredient Artemisinin was only recently scientifically identified.
The significance of malaria as a health problem is increasing in many parts of the world. Epidemics are even occurring in and around areas that traditionally had been known as Malaria zones before transmissions had been eliminated. These new outbreaks are generally associated with deteriorating social and economic conditions. The main victims are underprivileged rural populations.
Malaria is complex but it is a curable and preventable disease. Lives can be saved if the disease is detected early and given adequate treatment. Consult with a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.