Malaria is a serious, but preventable disease more commonly found in some tropical and subtropical countries. It is a disease caused by the infection of the parasite Plasmodium, which lives in mosquitoes. Malaria is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Many people who travel to places endemic to this disease get infected and bring the infection back home. Late diagnosis of malaria may lead to a serious and life threatening situation. But if diagnosed early, this is a completely curable condition. Malaria can be prevented in a number of ways, the most important one being avoiding mosquito bites.
Prevention of malaria basically follows four steps:
- Being aware would help in being prepared and taking precautions before traveling to a place endemic for malaria.
- Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to prevent the transmission of bacteria.
- Anti-malarial drugs also help in preventing infections.
- Early diagnosis of the infection is helpful in preventing complications.
If the travel to the place is unavoidable, preventing mosquito bites is very important to avoid infection by Plasmodium.
The steps to prevent insect bites include:
- Stay indoors during dusk and keep the doors and windows closed.
- Use a mosquito net or screen in the room.
- Insect repellent containing DEET (N,N diethylmetatoluamide) is ideal to prevent bites. For children repellent with strength of 25% or lesser should be used. Reapply them whenever needed.
- Wear clothing that is protective enough to prevent bites like long pants and long sleeved shirts.
- Use insect sprays around the sleeping area.
Remember to take anti-malarial medications at the right dose and time to prevent infections if you are planning to visit any of the places endemic to the disease. Moreover, continue the medication for the recommended period of time to ensure that all the parasites are eliminated from the body. Generally, people are recommended to take the medications for up to four weeks after returning back home. The drug and length of treatment depends on factors like the type of malaria parasite, severity of symptoms, and age. Some of the common drugs used in the treatment of malaria include Chloroquine, doxycycline, mefloquine, primaquin, and atovaquone, plus proguanil. Anti-malarial drugs are generally not completely effective in controlling the infection.