As a medical practitioner in a malaria endemic region Mombasa city down at the coast of Kenya, I see a lot of patients with malaria. Malaria is one of the leading causes of Morbidity and Mortality in Kenya, it accounts to about 15% of all outpatients attendance in the country’s health facilities. It’s common in the Lake Victoria region of western Kenya and the Coastal region. Children and pregnant mothers are a high risk population for Malaria.
Malaria is caused by parasitic organism of the Plasmodium species. There are 5 types, P. Falciparum, P. Vivax, P. Ovale, P. Malariae and new species P. knowlesi. Plasmodium Falciparum is the most aggressive and causes severe disease.
Malaria is transmitted by an infected female anopheles mosquito who has fed on the blood of an infected person to another person. The life cycle of the organism is in the mosquito and humans where they invade the liver and later red blood cells leading to hemolysis causing anemia and organ damage in severe forms.
Symptoms of malaria include malaise, headache, vomiting, fever, cough, mild diarrhoea and joint pains. The symptoms usually appear after 10 to 14 days after the bite. Your doctor will examine you and look out for pallor, jaundice, dehydration and hepatosplenomegally. When involves the brain as cerebral malaria, the patient presents with confusion and coma.
Investigation to diagnose malaria involves taking a blood smear and examine under a microscope for malaria parasites. Nowadays there is a rapid diagnostic test to diagnose malaria.
Management of malaria depends with the clinical findings of the doctor and investigation results. Mild/uncomplicated cases can be managed by oral drugs such as Artemisine/lumifantrine (AL) tabs. Severe cases require admission for intravenous drugs such as quinine and artesunate.
Prevention of malaria is by avoiding mosquito bites such as mosquito nets, repellent creams and sprays and long sleeve clothes. When travelling to malaria endemic regions, your doctor can prescribe you malaria prophylactic drugs such as mefloquine, proguanil and doxycline.
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