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Home > Blog > Malaria: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatment, and Test Price

Malaria: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatment, and Test Price

Malaria: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatment, and Test Price

Max Lab

Jul 05, 2022

Malaria is a deadly disease carried by malaria mosquito bites infected with microscopic parasites. The mosquito inserts malaria parasites into the bloodstream when it bites an individual. Malaria is caused by parasites rather than a virus or bacteria. Malaria can lead to serious health conditions like seizures, organ failure, breathing problems, brain injury, and death if not treated. This blog post lists down all the symptoms, possible causes, types, treatments, and test prices of Malaria.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is an infection that is common in hot, tropical areas, but which may also occur rarely in temperate areas. Four Plasmodium species, the Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium malariae, are the causes of malaria in humans. It is important to understand about the signs and symptoms of malaria as well as the treatment and prevention of malaria, as if left untreated, the disease can lead to numerous severe complications and health issues.

Causes of Malaria

When a mosquito bites a malaria patient, the mosquito gets infected. When that mosquito bites somebody else, it transmits a parasite into their blood. The parasites spread there. Malaria parasites can infect people in different ways.

Women who are pregnant and have malaria can spread the disease to their babies before or during birth in rare situations. Malaria can be transmitted by organ donations, blood transfusions, and hypodermic needles, but that is rare.

Risk Factors of Malaria

The biggest risk factors for malaria are living in or visiting areas where malaria is common. This includes tropical and sub-tropical regions.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Pacific Islands
  • Central America
  • Northern South America

The degree of risk one faces will depend on the local measures taken for the prevention of malaria, seasonal changes in the rate of the infection, and personal measures taken for the prevention of malaria. Infants, younger children, older adults, travellers from places with zero instances of malaria, and pregnant women and their unborn children are at greater risk of contracting the disease, which makes it important to know what the signs and symptoms of malaria are in these demographics.

Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria causes signs and symptoms that are similar to those of the flu, and recognising what the symptoms of malaria are, is important for proper diagnosis of malaria and for timely intervention. These include: -

Cerebral malaria is the most serious form of malaria, which can lead to a coma. If a person is displaying signs and symptoms of malaria fever, they may be prescribed to undergo some tests for the diagnosis of malaria.

When Do Malaria Symptoms Appear If an Individual is infected?

Malaria symptoms often occur 10 days to one month after infection. Symptoms vary according to the type of parasite. Some people do not feel any symptoms or illness for up to a year after being bitten by a malaria mosquito. Parasites can live in the body for many years without creating symptoms. Some types of malaria, based on the parasite, can reoccur. The parasites remain inactive in an individual’s liver for years before being released into the bloodstream. When the parasites reappear, the symptoms return.

Types of Blood Tests for Malaria

There are several tests that may be prescribed for the diagnosis of malaria

  • Thick and Thin Blood Smears

These are the most commonly used and reliable malaria tests. A lab technician, general practitioner, or nurse will draw a sample of one's blood and send it to a lab where it will be stained to detect any parasites. The technician places it on a glass slide and analyses it under a microscope. A blood film or a thin blood smear is a single drop of blood that covers the majority of the slide. A thick smear concentrates the blood in a narrow area. A regular test includes two of each.

The number of malaria parasites in the blood can fluctuate from day to day. As a result, even if an individual has malaria, their test results may indicate that they do not have it. For the best results, one may need to have their blood collected several times over the course of two or three days.

  • Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT)

This is a simple and fast option when blood draws and smears are unavailable. It's also known as antigen testing. A prick on one's finger is done to draw blood and placed on a test strip, which changes colour to indicate whether or not one has malaria.

This test cannot usually determine which of the four main malaria parasite species infected an individual. It also can't detect if the infection is mild or serious. All results should be followed up with blood smears by one's doctor.

Treatment for Malaria

Malaria treatment by health practitioners is determined by a number of factors, including age, severity of symptoms, parasite species, geographic region of infection, and many others. Doctors would prescribe malaria medications based on the type of parasite found in the blood. The two main types of parasites that damage the liver and can remain in the body for a longer period of time are P. vivax and P. ovale. As a result, in such cases, the doctor would prescribe a different malaria treatment. Prevention and treatment of malaria is crucial for avoiding serious medical problems. Malaria should be treated at the earliest. Some of the antimalarial drugs that may be prescribed include

Artemisinin drugs, atovaquone, chloroquine, doxycycline, mefloquine, quinine, and Primaquine. However, antimalarial drugs can cause a number of side effects, so it is important to inform the doctor about any other medication being taken. Taking proper steps for the prevention and treatment of malaria goes a long way in helping avoid complications.

How to Prevent Malaria?

Whether one is planning to live temporarily or to travel to an area where malaria is known to be common, it is important for them to consult their healthcare practitioner about the proper precautions and medicines they can take to prevent malaria. In the case of medication, the drugs may have to be consumed before, during, and after the visit. There are several medicines that can reduce the chances of one contracting malaria. However, these medicines cannot be used for the treatment of malaria if one does contract the disease. There is also a vaccine, called the RTS, S/AS01, which is available for children that can be administered to reduce the chances of contracting malaria. The vaccine has been developed and tested in areas like Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi in a pilot program.  The vaccine is effective against the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, which is known to cause cases of severe malaria in children. There are several other measures that can be taken for the prevention of malaria. To reduce one’s risks of getting malaria, an individual is advised to:

  • Apply mosquito repellent to exposed parts of the body. Mosquito repellents with diethyltoluamide (DEET) are known to be the most effective.
  • Drape mosquito netting over mattresses.
  • Set window and door screens.
  • Cover the skin by wearing long pants and long sleeves.
  • Clothing, tents, mosquito nets, sleeping bags, and other kinds of fabrics should be treated with permethrin, which is an insect repellent.

Cost of Malaria Test

The price of a malaria test depends upon the type of test an individual’s doctor has prescribed. Also, the price can vary significantly on the lab an individual chooses. Normally, a malaria test is not very high in price. So, if an individual observes any symptoms of Malaria, he/she should immediately go to the near pathology and get it tested.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Malaria has three stages:

  • The cold stage (shivering),
  • The hot stage (fever, headaches, vomiting)
  • The sweating stage (sweats, return to normal temperature, tiredness).

 

While a definitive diagnosis requires a blood test, you can watch for symptoms such as high fever, chills, sweating, and flu-like symptoms. Home malaria test kits are also available but should be used cautiously.

 

Malaria is transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito, which carries the Plasmodium parasite.

 

Malaria is diagnosed through blood tests that detect the presence of Plasmodium parasites in the blood.

 

Malaria symptoms typically last 6-10 days if treated, but if untreated, the infection can cause recurring symptoms for years due to dormant liver stages.

Yes, malaria can be cured with prompt and proper treatment using antimalarial medications

 

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