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Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted through infected mosquito bites. It is curable but can become deadly if not treated at the earliest. Each year, approximately 290 million people get infected with malaria of which more than 4 lakh  people die of this disease.
Most malaria cases are reported in underdeveloped tropical and subtropical areas of the world. India accounts for 47% of Plasmodium vivax malaria cases, 2% of total malaria cases and 2% of malarial deaths . The epidemiology of malaria in India is complicated due to the country’s geographic and ecological diversity and low community awareness.
Malaria is curable if diagnosed early. With the administration of the right kind of drugs, malaria parasites can be cleared from the body. However, incorrect treatment can cause a recurrence.
|Symptoms||Fever, chills, vomiting, headache, etc.|
|Complications||Cerebral malaria, seizure, anemia, coma, organ failure, etc.|
|Causes||Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, etc.|
|Onset||10-15 days after exposure|
|Diagnosis||Blood test, antigen test, etc.|
|Prevention||Mosquito net, application of repellent, etc.|
Here’s a detailed overview of malaria – its symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment and more. Read on!
In the early stages of malaria, its symptoms are mostly similar to many other infections which are caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. It might take some time to diagnose a patient with malaria due to the similar kind of symptoms that it [mfn]exhibits[/mfn].
An infected person can also go through flu-like symptoms, which can even lead to the administration of the wrong type of drug. Moreover, at times, people who get infected by malaria might show no symptoms at all. 
Nevertheless, here are some malaria symptoms that you can look out for :
Apart from the above-mentioned symptoms, a few people could also experience ‘malaria attacks’ that usually start with chills and shivering, followed by high fever and sweating before returning to normal temperature. If you live in a tropical country where mosquito outbreaks are common, if you experience any of the above symptoms, you must immediately check with the doctor and get malaria tests done to confirm.
Malaria is caused when a single-cell Plasmodium parasite infects an Anopheles mosquito. This mosquito then bites a human being and transfers the parasite. The transmission cycle of the disease  is as follows:
Now, if an uninfected mosquito bites the infected person again, it will get infected with malaria, and the cycle of transmission will go on.
Malarial Parasites are of various types, depending on the locations they are found and the rate of severity. The five primary types of malarial parasites  that can develop different types of malaria cases are:
It is the most dangerous type of malarial parasite across the globe that can cause life-threatening conditions like kidney failure, paralysis, convulsions and coma. The highest number of deaths are also caused due to this type of malaria parasite.
It is usually found in South America, South East Asia and Africa and shows symptoms like convulsions, paralysis, unconsciousness, etc. Moreover, it can multiply very quickly and cause clogged blood vessels with serious blood loss.
It is the most prevalent type of malarial parasite, with nearly 60% of cases found in India. Although this type of malaria parasite is dangerous, there are limited cases of death or severe illnesses.
The symptoms are fatigue, diarrhoea, recurring chills, fever and many more, which are primarily similar to the flu. Moreover, this malaria parasite can lie dormant for a long time and then rise up to infect the blood at a later stage.
It is the rarest type of malarial parasite, as it can reside in the host’s body for extended periods of time that may stretch up to several years. One can mainly find it in the tropics of the West African region, including Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia.
However, this type of the parasite is occasionally severe and causes less serious illness when compared to other types of malaria parasites. 
This type of parasite is the most lethal because it is not as widespread as the other types. However, it ranks third in prevalence and causes symptoms like chills and high fever. It is usually found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, Africa and South-East Asia. However, the prevalence of this type of malaria parasite is less than 1% in the Indian subcontinent.
This is the newest type of parasite, which usually causes simian malaria. It is a zoonotic parasite  that has been garnering the interest of scientists and doctors over the past two decades. It can naturally infect a macaque in South-East Asia and also infect human beings.
As the transmission is largely zoonotic, humans entering jungle transmission sites remain at high risk. Hence, it can cause malaria, which can get transmitted from animals to humans.
If you have malaria symptoms, visit the doctor immediately before it becomes critical very quickly. Early malaria diagnosis makes treatment more effective and can save someone’s life. Moreover, it will stop malaria from spreading to others through mosquito bites.
If not treated early, it can cause convulsions, body stools and, in the worst-case scenario, even coma. Get malaria treatment early, especially in cases of young children, infants and pregnant women.
Malaria parasites can be identified by examining a drop of the infected patient’s blood under the microscope on a glass slide. The blood is to be stained prior to the examination to give a distinguishable appearance to the parasite. 
This technique is the golden standard for laboratory confirmation of malaria, and it takes 5 minutes to carry out the complete test. However, the entire process mainly depends on the experience of the lab technician and the quality of the reagents.
The general laboratory tests  conducted for diagnosing malaria are as follows:
People who treat this disease properly at its first stage have a good long-term outlook. However, if malaria is not treated properly, it can cause serious health problems like permanent organ failure and death.
Without proper treatment, its symptoms can last from 2 to 24 weeks and reoccur after a few months for up to 20 years, depending on its type. Malarial anaemia and nephrotic syndrome (cerebral malaria) could also cause fatal complications.
Note – If a person has already got infected by malaria before, he/she can get it again from the bite of an infected mosquito.
It is very important to cure malaria at an early stage to avoid the various complications it may cause such as brain damage, seizures, organ failure, breathing problem or even death. However, while taking medications to prevent or cure malaria, one must be aware not to consume any drug without a doctor’s recommendation.
Currently, the 4 major classes of drugs  used to treat malaria include quinoline-related compounds, artemisinin derivatives, antimicrobials and antifolates. The doctor may prescribe some of these or all of them in a fixed ratio to treat cases of malaria based on their severity.
The lists of malaria medications  available are:
If someone is planning to travel or live somewhere temporarily where there are high chances of getting infected by malaria, consult a doctor beforehand. The doctor will recommend necessary steps or medications which, if followed religiously, will protect you from getting infected by the malaria parasite.
There are many antimalarial drugs which can greatly reduce the chances of contracting malaria. However, these drugs cannot be used for treatment purposes if a person develops malaria despite taking them.
Here are some easy ways  to stay protected from a mosquito bite:
It is to be noted that as of 2022, there is only one approved malaria vaccine that is administered worldwide – RTS,S. It is also known by the brand name Mosquirix. WHO recommended the large-scale use of RTS,S in October 2021 for children living in areas with moderate to high malaria transmission. 
Malaria can be fatal, especially when caused by the rarer plasmodium parasites. As per a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, out of 94% of malarial deaths, the most commonly infected are children under the age of 5. 
Some of the most common complications caused due to malaria include breathing problems, low blood sugar, muscular pain, insomnia, etc.
However, severe malaria could give rise to several health complications. At times, antimalarial drugs could also cause side effects.
Certain complications or side effects  that could arise from antimalarial drugs are:
Moreover, if someone gets infected by malaria during pregnancy, it might develop serious complications for both the mother and the baby. The complications are as follows:
Thus, it is essential to take a doctor’s recommendation if someone is pregnant and is about to travel to a high malaria-risk area.
In India, the average gross medical cost of treating a patient for a single episode of malaria is approximately ₹4000 or more, depending on the severity. 
Chloroquine is the most common drug for treating malaria. The average cost of treating a patient with this drug is approximately around ₹1500. Some other drugs like mefloquine and co-artemether are priced at approximately around ₹1200 and ₹1000, respectively. 
However, the above mentioned costs might vary depending on the severity of the disease and the type of treatment an individual is choosing. This treatment can also vary from location to location. For instance, the cost of treatment in Tier-I cities will be higher than Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
Malaria can be a dangerous parasitic disease if not treated at the earliest. If you are showing symptoms of malaria, visit the doctor immediately and get treated. If you live in India or any other tropical country, you can prevent getting infected with malaria parasites by following some easy measures and taking antimalarial drugs. However, make sure to consult a licensed doctor before taking any drug.
Malaria treatment can be a costly affair because it requires hundreds of diagnostic tests and might also require hospitalisation. To protect your finances from the rising medical emergency costs in India, get Navi Health Insurance today.
With Navi, you can avail unlimited online doctor consultations and annual health checkups at more than 10,000+ network hospitals in India. You can also avail hassle-free claim settlement process with premium payments starting at just Rs.234 per month.
Malaria symptoms usually appear after 10 to 30 days of a person being infected. Sometimes people might not get any symptoms even after one year, depending on the parasite type. In addition, some parasites might infect the red blood cells after being inactive in a human's liver for years.
One can get exposed to the malarial parasite in a multitude of ways. Some of them are: 1. Through blood transfusions 2. From a pregnant mother to her unborn child 3. On sharing a needle for injecting a drug
The malaria treatment period usually lasts for 2 days. However, the treatment duration might vary depending on the following: 1. Type of Plasmodium causing malaria 2. Symptom severity 3. Affected organ 4. Pregnancy 5. Antimalarial drug consumption, if any
The new malaria vaccine is known as R21 and is potentially an improved version of the previous vaccine RTS,S. The World Health Organisation (WHO) approved it in October 2022 for broad use in regions experiencing significant malarial patients.
Some natural mosquito repellents are Citronella, lemon eucalyptus, clove, lemongrass, neem, basil and thyme. All of these natural ingredients are available in the form of essential oils, which works as a great alternative to chemical-based mosquito repellents.
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