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Malaria Prophylaxis: The Ultimate Guide to Malaria Prevention

Malaria is a serious, life-threatening disease common in tropical areas of the world close to the equator. Left untreated, it can lead to lifelong health complications, but it can be prevented with malaria medication and other precautions. Read on for more information about this disease.

Malaria is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes to humans. It’s caused by a parasite in the infected mosquito. The type of mosquito that causes malaria is the female Anopheles mosquito, a species limited to certain regions. 

People with malaria get very sick, with symptoms such as high fever and shaking chills. The illness is common in tropical and subtropical areas and uncommon in temperate climates.

Some people with malaria experience a series of attacks, where symptoms flare up over and over again. Generally, malaria symptoms begin within a few weeks of being bitten by the infected mosquito, although the parasite can remain dormant for up to a year before malaria presents itself.

Malaria prophylaxis (treatment you take to prevent a disease) can include anti-malaria pills. These pills can reduce your risk of developing malaria, even if you’re bitten by an infected mosquito. 

Every year, about 210 million people contract malaria, and the disease results in about 440,000 deaths per year. Most of the people affected by malaria are young children in African countries. People with compromised immune systems are also at a higher risk for severe cases of malaria or death. Children, especially those under five years old, account for about two-thirds of malaria deaths worldwide.

World health officials try to reduce the incidence of malaria prophylaxis by offering preventive supplies. This includes distributing mosquito nets to people in regions with more infected mosquitoes. These nets surround their beds as they sleep and reduce the mosquitoes’ access. While anti-malaria pills can help reduce your chances of being infected, scientists are still trying to find a vaccine to prevent the disease entirely.

Funding for malaria control and elimination was about $2.7 billion in 2018. Governments in countries where malaria is especially bad contribute to malaria prevention and research, totaling about $900 million or about 30 percent of the total funding.

Malaria symptoms can take a few weeks to show up, but if you’ve traveled to a country that has malaria-infected mosquitoes, make sure to monitor your health to see if symptoms develop. Because symptoms may not show up right away, it’s important to take care of your health even after you return from your travels.

The most common symptoms of malaria prophylaxis include:

  • Shaking chills
  • Fever, often alternating with the chills
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain and soreness

Malaria symptoms can look like symptoms of other diseases such as the flu. Other, less common symptoms of malaria include:

  • Sweating or cold sweats
  • Pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Coughing

Some people with malaria experience cyclical attacks of the disease. These attacks typically start with shivering and chills, sometimes with shaking. A high fever comes next, followed by sweating when the fever breaks and their body temperature returns to normal.

Symptoms of malaria prophylaxis typically show up within a few weeks after being infected with the parasite, although sometimes the parasite can lie dormant in your body for up to a year.

People who live in areas where malaria parasites are common are at the highest risk of contracting the disease. Those who travel to these areas or go on vacation in tropical countries also run the risk of getting malaria.

Some people are at more risk of developing malaria prophylaxis than others. Young children (especially after under five) and seniors usually don’t have as strong of an immune system as healthy adults. People with immuno-compromising diseases, like HIV or AIDS, are more likely to develop a severe case of malaria. Additionally, pregnant women are more at risk. They may miscarry if they become infected with malaria, or the baby may be born with malaria.

People living in poverty-stricken areas and places with poor or limited access to health care also have higher instances of infection. These areas often offer little education about malaria prevention and treatment. In addition, people in these regions may not have access to malaria pills or mosquito netting.

There are several types of parasites that cause malaria prophylaxis. The parasite that causes the most serious malaria complications is found in sub-Saharan African countries, Southeast Asia, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Central American countries also have a high incidence of malaria-infected mosquitoes.

Malaria prophylaxis is the most important way to protect your health. Malaria pills can help reduce your likelihood of contracting malaria. Scientists are also working to develop a vaccine to prevent the disease entirely.

Reducing your level of exposure can help decrease your chances of contracting malaria prophylaxis. Wearing protective clothing can limit the amount of skin that’s exposed to mosquito bites. Pants and long-sleeved shirts are a good deterrent for mosquitoes. When you’re sleeping, use a mosquito net around your bed area and make sure the edges are tucked in.

If you’re pregnant or you think you may become pregnant, avoid traveling to areas where malaria is common. Also, if you have small children, avoid visiting tropical or subtropical countries.

Depending on where you plan to travel, you may need to take preventive medications before your trip. This malaria medication regimen usually starts before you travel and continues during your trip and for a few weeks afterward. It’s important to note that many malaria parasites have become resistant to more common anti-malaria drugs.

Talk to your health care provider before your trip and let them know where you plan to travel. They can best advise you on whether you need to take medications. Generally, the drugs used to prevent malaria are also the ones used to treat it. Different medications affect different types of parasites, so it’s important to take the right type of medication for the kind of parasite that lives in that region.

Other ways to prevent mosquito bites include using insect repellent on your skin and clothing. Some of the more effective anti-mosquito sprays contain DEET (can be used on skin) or permethrin (for clothing). You can also treat your mosquito net with insecticide.

Malaria is a serious disease and can be deadly. Taking preventive antimalarial drugs and reducing your exposure to infected mosquitoes by wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent are the best ways to reduce your chances of contracting the disease. While scientists are working to create a vaccine, it’s not available yet. 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/malaria/symptoms-causes/syc-20351184

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria

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