Disease Dialogues: Malaria

Today i will blog about a terrible parasitic disease for my global health class. It's called malaria. Funny thing about malaria- it's not something you or I ever think about. Before i became a public health major, i thought it was only found in tropical jungles in africa. That's actually mostly true, with 80% of the cases today occurring in sub-saharan Africa. Other places of high infection rates include the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Indian and Pacific Ocean Islands, and the Amazon Basin. Yikes! That means that 40% of the world is at risk for malaria! These countries have on average a 1% lower GDP because of malaria, and in sub-saharan Africa it is the leading cause of missed school and work days.

You can't talk of the dangers of snake poisoning without mentioning snakes. Infection occurs when a person it bitten by an infected anopheles mosquito, and then the parasites enter the bloodstream and reproduce asexually. You heard me right, asexually.

Some quick stats:
*350 to 500 million cases of malaria occur each year
*approximately one death every 30 seconds due to malaria
*90% of malaria deaths are of children less than five years of age
*90% of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa

While we may count our many blessings our feet are securely planted in healthy, safe, american soil...because speaking of which, on the glass-half-full side, malaria has been eradicated from the US, Europe, parts of Asia, and the Soviet Republics. But there's no reason it has to stop there...

This disease is dang preventable! These are some things I would do if I lived in sub-saharan africa:
*kill the larvae with insecticides...yes, the babies. They are death breeders in training you see.
*reduce human & mosquito contact by using insecticide-treated bed-nets & indoor residual spraying. Holy effective.
*Make people wear long-sleeved shirts and pants...i know it's africa, but lives are at stake
*advocate staying indoors at night (AC is preferred to keep mosquitoes from nestling)
*Visitors to at-risks countries can take chemoprophylaxis drugs to prevent infection

So there you go. Should you ever visit countries where malaria is present, remember this blog and perhaps you can train other people on ways they can stay mosquito-free. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

1 comment:

  1. I too thought that Malaria was just something you got when you went to the jungle. But it is an even bigger problem than we thought. What scares me is that malaria is so hard to control and so easy to catch. Yet there are many things we can do for prevention. Many of these are low cost interventions that will end up saving even more money because people will not miss work as much. I think Malaria is a good problem to work on because it can be eradicated. The results are easy to measure and is a lot that can be done about this problem.