The disease

Malaria is a serious disease caused by a microorganism, a plasmodium that infects red blood cells. There are a total of four types of plasmodium that can cause disease in humans. These are P.vivax, P.falciparum, P.ovale, P.malarie.

Transmission

The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected female mosquito belonging to the genus Anopheles or through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and the use of infected needles.

Symptoms

The symptoms of the disease mainly include fever, chills, and headache. However, in more severe cases, disturbances of consciousness, severe anemia due to hemolysis, coagulation disorders and other conditions that may endanger the patient’s life may occur.

Pathophysiology

From a pathophysiological point of view, malaria infection develops in two phases, one involving the liver, called the extracellular phase, and the second involving the erythrocytes and called erythrocyte phase.

Treatment

In recent years there has been a revolution in the drugs used to treat malaria due to the use of ACTs. However, the exact following medication depends on the type of plasmodium which causes the disease and the severity of the condition. In many cases, it is also recommended the use of prophylactic agents which act as gametocytes, in order to reduce the possibilities of the transmission.

Epidemiology

Due to the up-to-date effective drugs, malaria has been eradicated from many societies. Today, the most affected countries are sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America in which access to drugs is limited and health factors that favor the transmission of the disease have not been limited. Stagnant water is the main area where mosquitoes -that may be infected and act as intermediate hosts for plasmodium- can live and reproduce.

That is why each country must issue annual reports on individual protection and prevention measures at home, at work and in society that can protect the general population not only from malaria but also from mosquito-borne diseases (e.g. Zika virus)