Rabu, 11 Maret 2009

Mal Aria

Malaria is a name that may sound pretty but it actually means "bad air". It is basically an infectious disease caused by parasites, called Plasmodium, and distributed by some kind of insect, mainly mosquitoes. Some tropical regions, mainly Asia and Africa, have the poor luck of being endemic. Developing countries seem to be more affected by the disease than do their more developed brethrens and sistrens.

Only female mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus can transmit malaria after they suck blood containing malaria parasites from an infected person. The parasites then enter the blood circulation and multiply within red blood cells, causing symptoms including fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting, anemia (caused by red blood cells destruction), a trace of hemoglobin in urine, retinal damage, and convulsions. The classic symptom of malaria is fever and sweating switching on and off lasting four to six hours, which occur every two days or three days depending on the species of the parasites. Children with malaria often show abnormal posturing that may be caused by severe brain damage. Children are also more prone to having neurological damage from malaria that attacks the brain.
The kind of parasite called Plasmodium falciparum can cause a severe case of malaria which arises 6-14 days after infection. Some morbid after-effects of severe malaria include coma and death if left untreated. Children and pregnant women, as usual, are especially vulnerable. Some other symptoms that may occur are enlarged spleen, a world of headache, disturbed circulation to the brain, enlarged liver, low blood sugar, and renal failure. Now, this renal failure is the cause of blackwater fever, where hemoglobin from damaged red blood cells leaks into the urine. Severe malaria can cause death in the matter of days, even hours.
Malaria can be chronic if it is caused by Plasmodium vivax or Plasmodium ovale. Not by their falciparum mate, though, for some reason. When chronic, malaria may begin to show symptoms in a few months or years after exposure, because the parasites in the liver are in latent phase. In latent phase, laboratory exams may fail to show the presence of malaria parasites in the blood stream.
Malaria transmission can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites with mosquito nets and insect repellents, or by spraying insecticides inside houses and draining or covering any container of water where mosquitoes may lay their eggs.

Even with the recent development of medical technology, no vaccine is currently available for malaria. People in the endemic regions have to take preventive drugs to reduce the risk of infection. Quinine has been used since ever as a cure and preventive medicine against malaria. Nowadays we can use other effective alternatives such as quinacrine, chloroquine, and primaquine and reduce the reliance on quinine. Although, quinine is still used to treat chloroquine resistant Plasmodium falciparum, as well as severe and cerebral stages of malaria. Beside quinine, other antimalarial drugs used to treat malaria infection are the derivatives of artemisinin. However, some of these parasites have evolved to be more resistant to many of antimalarial drugs. In such case, only a few drugs remain as effective treatments for malaria.