June 20, 2013 | 06:16 AM (BD Time)
20 June, 2013 Thursday
Afghan President Karzai to boycott talks with Taliban ; ACC a toothless tiger : Chairman ; Obama to call for nuclear cuts in Berlin speech ; NSA director says plot against Wall Street foiled ; Israeli premier: pressure on Iran must continue ; DCC elections after Eid-ul-Fitr : EC ; 18-party to stage demo countrywide on June 22 ; ;
Malaria at a glance
(From previous issue)
Dr. Charles Davis :
Yes. All children, including young infants, living in or traveling to malaria risk areas should take antimalarial drugs (for example, chloroquine and mefloquine [Lariam]). Although the recommendations for most antimalarial drugs are the same as for adults, it is crucial to use the correct dosage for the child. The dosage of drug depends on the age and weight of the child. A specialist in pediatric infectious diseases is recommended for consultation in prophylaxis (prevention) and treatment of children. Since an overdose of an antimalarial drug can be fatal, all antimalarial (and all other) drugs should be stored in childproof containers well out of the child's reach.
If people must travel to an area known to have malaria, they need to find out which medications to take, and take them as prescribed. Current CDC recommendations suggest individuals begin taking antimalarial drugs about one to two weeks before traveling to a malaria infested area and for four weeks after leaving the area (prophylactic or preventative therapy). Doctors, travel clinics, or the health department can advise individuals as to what medicines to take to keep from getting malaria. Currently, there is no vaccine available for malaria, but researchers are trying to develop one.
Avoid travel to or through countries where malaria occurs if possible. If people must go to areas where malaria occurs, they should take all of the prescribed preventive medicine. In addition, the 2010 CDC international travel recommendations suggest the following precautions be taken in malaria and other disease-infested areas of the world; the following CDC recommendations are not unique for malaria but are posted by the CDC in their malarial prevention publication.
Avoid outbreaks: To the extent possible, travelers should avoid traveling in areas of known malaria outbreaks. The CDC Travelers' Health web page provides alerts and information on regional disease transmission patterns and outbreak alerts (http://www.cdc.gov/travel).
Be aware of peak exposure times and places: Exposure to arthropod bites may be reduced if travelers modify their patterns of activity or behavior. Although mosquitoes may bite at any time of day, peak biting activity for vectors of some diseases (for example, dengue, chikungunya) is during daylight hours. Vectors of other diseases (for example, malaria) are most active in twilight periods (for example, dawn and dusk) or in the evening after dark. Avoiding the outdoors or focusing preventive actions during peak hours may reduce risk.
Wear appropriate clothing: Travelers can minimize areas of exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, boots, and hats. Tucking in shirts and wearing socks and closed shoes instead of sandals may reduce risk. Repellents or insecticides such as permethrin can be applied to clothing and gear for added protection; this measure is discussed in detail below.
Check for ticks: Travelers should be advised to inspect themselves and their clothing for ticks during outdoor activity and at the end of the day. Prompt removal of attached ticks can prevent some infections.
Bed nets: When accommodations are not adequately screened or air conditioned, bed nets are essential to provide protection and to reduce discomfort caused by biting insects. If bed nets do not reach the floor, they should be tucked under mattresses.
Bed nets are most effective when they are treated with an insecticide or repellent such as permethrin. Pretreated, long-lasting bed nets can be purchased prior to traveling, or nets can be treated after purchase. The permethrin will be effective for several months if the bed net is not washed. (Long-lasting pretreated nets may be effective for much longer.)
Insecticides: Aerosol insecticides, vaporizing mats, and mosquito coils can help to clear rooms or areas of mosquitoes; however, some products available internationally may contain pesticides that are not registered in the United States. Insecticides should always be used with caution, avoiding direct inhalation of spray or smoke.
Optimum protection can be provided by applying repellents. The CDC recommended insect repellent should contain up to 50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), which is the most effective mosquito repellent for adults and children over 2 months of age.
The majority of people who become infected with P. malariae, vivax, or ovale do well and the fevers abate after about 96 hours. However, in endemic areas, reinfection is common. Malaria caused by P. falciparum or P. knowlesi, even when treated, have outcomes ranging from fair to poor, depending on how the parasites react to treatment.
Untreated people often die from these infections. In general, patients who are infants, children under the age of 5 (especially in sub-Saharan countries), and those with depressed immune systems (for example, AIDS or cancer patients) have a more guarded prognosis.
Malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium spp. parasites that infects about 400 million people per year with about 2 million deaths.
Symptoms include recurrent cycles (every one to three days) of fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches; nausea, vomiting, and jaundice also may occur.
Anopheles mosquitoes transmit the parasites to humans when they bite. The parasites undergo a complicated life cycle in both mosquitoes and humans; the cycle begins again when the mosquitoes take a blood meal from a human that is contaminated with mature parasites.
Africa, Asia, and Central and South America are the areas with high numbers of malarial infections.
The incubation period for malaria symptoms is about one to three weeks but may be extended to eight to 10 months after the initial infected mosquito bites occur. Some people may have dormant parasites that may get reactivated years after the initial infection.
Malaria is diagnosed by the patient's history of recurrent symptoms and the identification of the parasites in the patient's blood, usually by a Giemsa blood smear.
Malaria is usually treated by using combinations of two or more anti-parasite drugs incorporated into pills that are taken before exposure (prophylactic or preventative therapy) or during infection. More serious infections are treated by IV anti-parasitic drugs in the hospital.
Infants, children, and pregnant females, along with immunodepressed patients are at higher risk for worse outcomes when infected with malaria parasites.
To reduce the chance of getting malaria, people should avoid malaria-endemic areas of the world, use mosquito repellents, cover exposed skin, and use mosquito netting covered areas when sleeping.
The prognosis for the majority of malaria patients is good; most recover with no problems, unless infected with P. falciparum or P. knowlesi, which may have fair to poor outcomes unless treated immediately. Infants, children under 5 years of age, pregnant females, and those with depressed immune systems frequently have a fair to poor prognosis unless effectively treated early in the infection.
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