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Malaria is a Plasmodium - parasitic micro-organism - spread by the female Anopheles mosquito. This mosquito type flourishes in warm, wet regions and is common in tropical and subtropical regions, from Central America to northern South America, sub-Saharan Africa and right across east and southeast Asia.
In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report highlighted that 445,000 people died from contracting malaria (down from 446,000), and approximately 216 million people were infected. Most people were from the African continent followed by southeast Asia and the Americas.
The symptoms of malaria include:
Advanced cases can also show:
As malaria presents symptoms common in other medical conditions, it's important to get checked out as soon as possible. If treated early, malaria can be cured.
Anti-malarials are usually administered, and the type can vary depending on the severity of malaria and parasite type. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that if the right drugs are used and administered early, those infected with malaria can be cured and all parasites can be cleared from the patient's body.
However, if the wrong drugs are given and treatment is delayed, the disease can continue and lay dormant years later.
Due to the complexity of the malaria parasite, there is no commercially available vaccine. WHO reports that researchers are still developing and trialing a vaccine.
However, travelers can take anti-malarial prophylaxis before heading into infected areas. But it's important to note that in some cases antimalarials are slowly becoming ineffective due to parasite resistance.
Determining which anti-malarial is best can depend on:
According to the CDC, the likelihood of contracting malaria can depend on many factors:
The best ways to prevent malaria include:
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Mosquitoes kill millions of people each year due to their ability to carry and spread diseases. Find how to prevent bites while traveling with these travel tips.
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