Malaria is one of deadliest diseases out there. Yes, there are cures but if left untreated, it can become fatal. It is far more dangerous for children compared to adults. In this article, we will learn a few things about Malaria such as the roots of its name, the number of deaths caused all over the world, the life cycle of the malaria parasite and more… So, let us waste time no further and start with our list of 30 mind-blowing malaria facts.
Mind-Blowing Malaria Facts: 1-5
1. Malaria means bad air. In 1800’s people thought that malaria spread through bad or polluted air in marshy areas and hence the word “malaria” came into the picture.
2. This disease is caused by a protozoan called as “Plasmodium”. There are 5 species of this genus which attacks humans. They are P. falciparum (dangerous of all), P. vivax (most common of all), P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi.
3. P. knowlesi is mostly confined to Southeast Asia while the other four affect everyone. As said, P. falciparum is the deadliest of the five and it accounts for most of the deaths.
4. Of all, P. falciparum is seen infecting more people of Sub-Saharan region and P. vivax infects people other than the ones living in Sub-Saharan region.
5. It is transmitted through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquito. Anopheles mosquito acts as a vector (vector is an organism which transmits the parasite from one person to another person). As per the reports, there are still 91 countries which have this disease.
Mind-Blowing Malaria Facts: 6-10
6. The parasite has two hosts, a definitive host, and a secondary or intermediate host. The definitive host, which is the mosquito here, is a host in which sexual reproduction of the parasite takes place.
7. The secondary or intermediate host, which is human here, is a host in which the parasite resides only for a shorter period of time.
8. A few lines on the protozoa’s life cycle won’t hurt. When an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a non-immune, uninfected human, the protozoan (sporozoites) gets into the bloodstream and then it goes to the liver and then in RBC (Red Blood Cells) and starts multiplying.
9. When the merozoites are formed, they come out of the RBC’s bursting by bursting the red blood cells and enter the bloodstream. These daughter merozoites are the ones who cause symptoms. The incubation period varies from parasite to parasite but generally, it is between 7 days and 15 days.
10. The symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, vomiting etc. The earlier symptoms don’t help much in recognizing malaria. If left untreated, it may even cause death.
Mind-Blowing Malaria Facts: 11-15
11. The symptoms usually occur in cycles. If the parasite is P. knowlesi., then the symptoms would come back every 24 hours. For P. vivax or P. ovale., the time it would take for the symptoms to make a comeback is 48 hours. P. malariae takes 72 hours for every bout of symptoms.
12. It is the parasites’ life cycle that is responsible for the symptoms to occur in a cyclical pattern. The parasites develop, reproduce and get released from the RBC’s and liver cells (hepatocytes).
13. Malaria is more dangerous when it comes to children. They may develop anemia, respiratory issues, and in the worst cases cerebral malaria (it is a condition where the parasite enters the brain and even if diagnosed and treated properly, it leaves slight cognitive and neurological impairment, epilepsy, some issues in behavior).
14. For adults as well, it may prove to be fatal. Multi-organ involvement (disease spreading to many organs) is also seen. In areas where malaria is common, people develop partial immunity. Here the person gets infected but shows no symptoms. So, by the time he understands he has malaria, it will be too late.
15. Some of these baby parasites convert themselves into gametocytes and go to the veins which are superficially seen so that they can enter the definitive host (female Anopheles mosquito).
Mind-Blowing Malaria Facts: 16-20
16. When a female Anopheles mosquito bites an infected person, the gametocytes enter the mosquito’s body. Here the gametocytes grow into macrogametocyte (female) and microgametocyte (male) and form zygotes.
17. These zygotes grow into ookinetes (elongated and mobile) and then into oocysts. These oocysts grow into sporozoites and enter the salivary glands of the mosquito. When this infected mosquito bites an uninfected, non-immune human, it starts all over again. This is a very rough sketch of the life cycle of the parasite.
18. Did you know that for P. vivax and P. ovale, there is a dormant stage? The dormant stage’s parasite is called as hypnozoites which stay in liver cells and become active again. They may take some days or several years to become active and infect again.
19. As we told in the above points that Sub-Saharan African region is the area with highest malaria cases and deaths. Other countries or regions where malaria is rampant are South-East Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
20. Infants, children below 5 years of age, women who are pregnant, HIV or AIDS patients, non-immune travelers etc. are at higher risk of getting malaria than others.
Mind-Blowing Malaria Facts: 21-25
21. Did you know that there are 212 million malaria cases all over the world and 429,000 deaths worldwide due to malaria in the year 2015?
22. Did you know that in 2015, there were 91 countries where malaria transmission happened?
23. In the same year, of all malaria cases worldwide, 90% were confined to Sub-Saharan Africa. Also, 92% of all malaria deaths in the world took place in the same region!
24. About 70% of all malaria deaths in this entire world came from the age group of below 5 years!
25. Starting 2001, about 6.8 million people were saved from the claws of death due to malaria – thanks to the advanced medical care and preventive measures taken worldwide.
Mind-Blowing Malaria Facts: 26-30
26. There are around 400 species of Anopheles mosquito and 30 of these 400 are vectors of malaria. These mosquitoes prefer the timings from dusk to dawn and lay eggs mostly in freshwater.
27. The areas which have mosquitoes, which live longer than usual and who love biting humans, see more number of cases of malaria and sometimes deaths as well.
28. Vector control is considered as the best way to curb this disease. Long-lasting insecticidal nets are proving to be the safest options for vector control. Indoor residual spraying is also a safer way to kill the mosquitoes and be safe for about 3-6 months. After this time period, the houses have to be sprayed again.
29. A number of drugs have been produced to curb malaria. For travelers and refugees, chemoprophylaxis is given and for pregnant women, infants and for kids, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine is given (administration and dosage vary).
30. However, it is seen that mosquitoes of some areas have developed resistance. Several other products are getting tested which may solve some of the problems caused by malaria.