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Frequently Ask Questions

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted by a bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Once the parasite gain access inside the human body, it infects and reproduces in the liver, then goes into the Red Blood Cells (RBCs). RBCs then burst releasing substances inducing the classical symptoms of malaria.

 

There are four species of human malaria namely:

  1. Plasmodium falciparum (Pf)
  2. Plasmodium vivax (Pv)
  3. Plasmodium malariae (Pm)
  4. Plasmodium ovale (Po)

 

Seventy percent (70%) of all malaria cases in the Philippines are P. falciparum. It is also responsible for severe or complicated malaria causing mortality. P vivax causes about 30% of cases. It is also capable of producing complicated malaria but to a lesser extent. Plasmodium vivax (Pv) and Plasmodium ovale (Po) have dormant stages in the liver called hypnozoites. They are the cause of relapsing malaria several months or maybe years after the initial infection.



What are the signs and symptoms of Malaria?

Malaria is an acute febrile illness. In a non-immune individual, symptoms usually appear 10-15 days after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms are fever, headache, and chills, may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.

Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria. In adults, multi-organ involvement is also frequent. In malaria endemic areas, people may develop partial immunity, allowing asymptomatic infections to occur.



Who are at risk?

Anybody, young, old, women, men, rich, poor can get malaria.

However, pregnant women, children under 5 years old and elderly people are most at risk because of their weak immune system or inability of the body to fight infection.



How is Malaria transmitted?

It can be transmitted through

1.    Mosquito bite

a.    When a mosquito bites a person with malaria it sucks up parasite in the blood and becomes infected

b.    The parasites multiply and develop in the mosquito

c.     After 2 weeks, the parasites can be transmitted to a healthy person thru a bite of mosquito

2.    Blood transfusion

3.  Use of infected needles

4. Transplacental (transfer of malaria parasites from an infected mother to her unborn child)



What are the characteristics of the mosquito?

  • Anopheles is a night biting mosquito
  • It bites from sunset till sunrise
  • Peak biting time is from 10 PM to 2 AM
  • It usually breeds in clear, slow-flowing streams found in mountainous and forested areas
  • It can fly within 1 km from breeding site



What are the misconceptions about Malaria?

1.    People get sick by:

a.    Drinking water from the stream or river

b.    Eating food like cashew or drinking buko juice

c.     Being over-worked and skipping meals

d.    "Pasma"

e.    Witchcraft or `kulam`

2.    Malaria is hereditary