Malaria is a potentially deadly disease caused
by infection with the microscopic parasite Plasmodium. Plasmodium is transmitted
to humans through bites from Anopheles mosquitoes infected with the parasite. According
to the World Health Organization, malaria is present in more than 100 countries—mostly
in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Each year there are roughly 300
million cases of malaria, and more than 1.5 million people die of the disease.
Children and pregnant women are especially at risk for malaria. The June 2,
2004, issue of JAMA includes an article about using
mosquito nets embedded with insect repellent to reduce the prevalence of malaria.
Symptoms usually appear about 9 to 14 days after being bitten by an
Sudden, violent chills
Malaria is best diagnosed by looking for the Plasmodium parasites in a blood sample under the microscope.
Malaria is treated with drugs that interfere with
the parasite's lifecycle or metabolism.
If you think you have malaria, seek medical treatment
Prevention is based on avoiding exposure to mosquitoes and aggressively
treating people who are infected. Malaria control programs in many parts of
the world are underfunded and ineffective. If you are traveling to an area
where malaria is common, take antimalarial drugs exactly as prescribed by
your physician and prevent mosquito bites by
Closing windows at night if possible
Sleeping with a mosquito net, preferably one containing
an insecticide, with the edges tucked under the mattress
Covering up your body as much as possible with
Applying an insect repellant to areas of the body
not covered by clothing.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 770/488-7788 http://www.cdc.gov/malaria
World Health Organization 202/974-3000 http://www.who.int/en
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Sources: American College of Cardiology; National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute; American Heart Association
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TOPIC: INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Parmet S, Lynm C, Glass RM. Malaria. JAMA. 2004;291(21):2664. doi:10.1001/jama.291.21.2664