We talk a lot about malaria especially when you are about to leave for destinations where it is easier to contract this disease but it is good to be informed regardless. So here is an insight into this disease that does not want to replace the doctor's opinion but simply make an introductory overview on the subject. Obviously, in case of need, or of doubts and suspicious symptoms, a health authority should be contacted. An online article does not replace the intervention of a specialist. Including this, we can begin to talk about malaria.
Malaria: what it is
It is an infectious disease caused by the parasite called Plasmodium. The only way it can be transmitted is through the bites of infected mosquitoes and not any mosquitoes but only those of the type Anopheles. These insects are prevalently present in areas other than Italy, namely in Africa, Central and South America and Asia but this should not lead us to lower our defenses and be imprudent. In theory, malaria has disappeared in Italy since the 1950s but there are still cases that are linked to tourists returning from countries at risk.
Parasites when they manage to penetrate our body, they multiply in the liver and infect red blood cells after a variable incubation. The main symptoms, which we will see better later, appear after a maximum of two weeks from the bite of the infected mosquito and are headache and fever, muscle tension and chills. In some cases, episodes of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur.
To cure malaria, there are quick and effective treatments based on artemisinin combined with other drugs, mosquito nets treated with insecticides, insecticide products and repellents can also be very useful. The important thing is not to neglect this disease because it can have serious consequences on our health when it stops the blood supply to vital organs.
Particular attention should be paid when returning from trips to zone a malaria risk, and they are not few. In these cases it may be advisable to be examined to assess the state of health and carry out a parasitological examination on the blood (smear and thick drop, malarial parasite DNA search, rapid immunoassay).
Malaria: how it is transmitted
We have already stated that there are not too many ways to transmit malaria, a disease that is closely linked to the presence of female Anopheles mosquitoes. These insects feed on blood to bring the eggs to maturity, they are particularly thirsty at night, hours in which to be on guard more than ever when in one of the areas where these mosquitoes live.
A second way to contract malaria is related to blood transfusions or red blood cells from malarial subjects and containing plasmodia in the infectious phase.
It is the last thing that should happen, that of getting sick when you want to be treated, and it is precisely for this reason that in Italy there are laws that strictly exclude donation by people who have stayed in malarial areas and / or who have carried out antimalarial chemoprophylaxis.
You don't immediately notice that you have contracted malaria because this disease has a incubation period not short, which can reach up to 15 days, for some types of mosquito, and even up to 10 months, for others. It all depends on the strains, the one with the longest incubation period is P. ovale. If, on the other hand, the transmission took place with a transfusion, the incubation period may depend on the number of transfused parasites and may even reach two months.
Returning to mosquitoes, once they have contracted the disease, they remain infectious for life, while people who have malaria cannot transmit it to other human beings with simple contact. What can happen is that a man or a woman with malaria makes other mosquitoes that bite them sick, this applies for a period of a couple of years, maximum three, in the case of P. malariae malaria.
Malaria: how it is recognized
It is not immediate to identify an infection of this type because various symptoms coincide with those of other diseases, as often happens. Fever is the main sign and is often accompanied by head and muscle pains, back pain and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
It is not certain that the disease manifests itself in an immediately violent way, so in case of doubts it is better to consult a doctor to carry out more specific tests. When a child becomes ill with malaria, the risk of serious consequences can only increase. Related to the young age there may be episodes of severe anemia and respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, cerebral malaria.
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