Malaria is the most common and deadly parasitic disease in the world.
Malaria is caused by parasitic protozoa that infect human red blood cells.
To download the powerpoint presentation on the Anopheles species of mosquito from several parts of the world - courtesy of Professor Chris Curtis, London School of Tropical Medicine click here.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a febrile debilitating illness, which can lead to chronic anaemia, brain and kidney damage and death, especially amongst children and pregnant women. It is caused by the Plasmodium parasite that is injected into the blood system by an infected female Anopheles mosquito.
What is the problem?
Malaria is difficult to eradicate as the mosquitoes breed in swampy marshy areas of the tropics, and the parasite is becoming resistant to the cheaper drugs. Without control Malaria can have a dramatic impact on economic development. Income to countries have been devastated by malaria because so many people are off work ill with it. It is reckoned that billions could be saved by eliminating malaria.
How is Malaria caused?
By the Plasmodium parasite that is injected into the blood stream by an infected anopheles mosquito
Has Malaria just appeared?
It was first described in writings as long ago as 2,700 BC.
What are the answers?
- Clear the swampy areas
- Stop the mosquitoes biting
- Kill the parasite
Malaria is also in Europe and areas of England are affected by it particularly some of the Scottish isles.
Malaria parasites have a complex life cycle. In order to live, they need to have both a human and a mosquito host.
The mosquito host can't be just "any" mosquito. It has to be a mosquito of the genus Anopheles.
The mosquito picks up the malaria parasites from the blood of an infected human when it feeds.
The malaria parasite reproduces itself in the gut of the Anopheles mosquito. The malaria parasites need the mosquito to continue their life cycle. Then, the mosquito passes the malaria parasites to the human through its salivary glands.
The four different species of malaria parasites cause types of malaria that are somewhat different from each other.
The worst type is caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Infection with Plasmodium falciparum kills approximately 1-2% of those who come down with it. Falciparum malaria is a serious illness characterized by fever, headache, and weakness.
Complications of falciparum malaria include cerebral malaria, in which the brain is infected, severe malaria, in which the parasitic infection essentially "runs out of control," and placental malaria, in which falciparum is a grave complication of pregnancy, and coma. Each of these complications is very serious and often fatal.
Falciparum malaria is the major type found in subSaharan Africa, where 90% of the world's malaria cases occur.
Unfortunately, falciparum malaria is also frequently resistant to drugs and is becoming more common in high elevation areas of Africa, and in portions of Asia.
The other species of malaria cause a debilitating illness characterized by spells of chills, fever and weakness. This illness generally lasts 10-14 days, and is self-limiting in nature. The malaria caused by these species is rarely fatal.
Malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium malariae can relapse [come back] if it is not properly treated with medicine.
Unfortunately, in places where Plasmodium vivax has become more common, such as India, the more dangerous Plasmodium falciparum hasn't been far behind.
Africa is terribly affected, and accounts for over 90% of reported cases of malaria. About 10% of hospital admissions are for malaria, as are 20-30% of doctors' visits. As bad as that is, some experts foresee as much as a 20% annual increase in Africa's rate of malaria-related illness and death. No Western disease is nearly so prevalent or growing at anything like that rate.
To find out where malaria currently occurs in the world take a look at the information collected by GlobalHealthFacts.org on the following pages.
- Section 1
- Section 2
- Section 3
- Section 4
- Section 5
- Section 6