How to prevent malaria

Malaria is a serious medical condition that is caused by parasites known as plasmodia. These parasites are transmitted to our blood stream through mosquito (female anopheles) bite. Malaria is a major health problem worldwide.

Chills, tiredness and fever are common symptoms of malaria. This medical condition can lead to seizures, renal failure, jaundice and even death. Around 300 million people are affected by malaria worldwide every year.

Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito

Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito feeding on blood.
Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito feeding on blood.

Around one million die due to this dreadful medical condition. Around 0.8 percent of people affected by this medical condition succumb to it, even in the developed western world. More than 90 percent of all the malaria cases occur in African continent.

In fact malaria is the leading cause of death in children less than five years in the African continent. It is a public health challenge in this continent. Worldwide, more than two billion countries are at the risk of getting infected with malaria in more than 100 nations.

Major cause of concern is that malaria has re-emerged in places where it was eliminated. This is due to many factors like parasite’s increasing resistance to anti-malaria medicines and insecticides.

Malaria causing parasite plasmodium

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Fortunately malaria is very much preventable. Here are some tips on how to prevent malaria.

Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to avoid prevent malaria. One bite from a female anopheles mosquito carrying the parasite plasmodium is enough to infect the person with this medical condition.

It is advisable to apply a good insect repellant on your skin. DEET (diethyl toluamide) is very effective against mosquitoes. Adults, children and even pregnant women may use DEET. It is safe.

DEET has been used more than eight billion times over the last half a century. If you are not comfortable with DEET, you may use other products like Mosiguard, which is made from eucalyptus oil.

While using the mosquito repellant, it is very important to adhere to manufacturer’s recommendations. This is especially true while using it on children. According to experts mosquito repellents containing more than 30 percent DEET is immensely effective against mosquitoes. However, for young children, use a preparation containing less than 24 percent DEET, as it can be absorbed through the skin.

Apply only on exposed skin. Avoid using perfumes and colognes. Use mosquito nets during the night when you are sleeping. It is the safest and most natural way of protecting yourself from mosquito bites.

If you are using sunscreen, apply it before applying the mosquito repellent. Wash off the repellent before going to bed. It is advisable to sleep in rooms that are properly screened with gauze over doors and windows. It is important to inspect for damage to the gauze. Check for unscreened entry points to the room.

You may consider using insecticides in areas where you will be spending most of your time during the day. It is advisable to avoid camping at locations around stagnant water. That is where mosquitoes breed.

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water

Summary

  • Malaria is caused by parasites known as plasmodia.
  • Malaria causing parasites carried by female anopheles mosquitoes.
  • Chills, tiredness and fever are common symptoms of malaria.
  • Around 300 million people are affected by malaria worldwide every year.
  • Around one million people die due to malaria every year.
  • More than 90 percent of all the malaria cases occur in African continent.
  • Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to avoid prevent malaria.
  • DEET (diethyl toluamide) is very effective against mosquitoes.
  • Avoid giving breeding space to mosquitoes.
  • Pyrethrum, basil, marigold, citronella, clove, rosemary, horsemint, catnip, ageratum, lavender, vetiver grass, lemon grass and garlic are some plants that are very effective against mosquitoes.
  • Female anopheles mosquitoes usually attack at night.
  • If you are traveling to a place, check the level of malaria risk in that place.

While on camping trips, carry insecticide treated mosquito net. Use the same while sleeping. This reduces the risk of mosquito bites very effectively. It is advisable to buy a mosquito net that is small-meshed. Check for holes in the mosquito net. Tuck the net under the bottom sheet. Ensure that the mosquito net is rolled up during the day. This will ensure that mosquitoes and other equally nasty insects do not enter the net when it is not in use.

Impregnation of the net (with insecticide like permethrin or deltamethrin) lasts around six months. This depends on the frequency of usage of the net. It is advisable to pack the net in a plastic bag when not in use. Do not wash the net in between re-impregnation.

Avoid giving breeding space to mosquitoes. Keep pots and pans empty. Cover vessels that you use to store water. Keep areas around your house clean. If you find any stagnant water, take appropriate steps to close the same.

Pyrethrum, basil, marigold, citronella, clove, rosemary, horsemint, catnip, ageratum, lavender, vetiver grass, lemon grass and garlic are some plants that are very effective against mosquitoes. Plant them in your garden.

In fact you may prepare your own natural mosquito repellent that is safe to use. It should ideally be a blend of essential oil and carrier oil. That is around five to 10 percent of essential oil and the remaining carrier oil.

It is advisable to use essential oils like citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil and castor oil. These oils are very effective against mosquitoes. For carrier oil you may use olive oil, vodka, sunflower oil, witch hazel and alcohol.

Be extra careful during the night hours, between dusk and dawn. Female anopheles mosquitoes usually attack at night. Use electric fans when you see mosquitoes flying around you.

WHO

It is advisable to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and thick socks while visiting mosquito-infested locations. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark cloths. It is advisable to wear light colored cloths.

Consult your physician and take some anti-malarial medicines before visiting these places. It is indeed a challenge to find the right preventive medicine. Resistance to chloroquine and other malaria medicines is spreading at an alarming rate. Medicines that were effective against malaria five years ago are no more effective.

According to experts, chloroquine resistance is prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, large parts of the South American continent and the Indian subcontinent. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor. Do not pick up your medicine from a pharmacy without consulting your doctor.

If you are traveling to a place, check the level of malaria risk in that place. If you are visiting warm regions like south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, you need to be extra careful. Malaria is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions.

The risk of being bitten by a female anopheles mosquito and the type of malaria transmitted depends very much on the nation you are visiting and the time of your visit.

While traveling to mosquito-infested area, stay in an air conditioned accommodation.

If you are your love one is pregnant, it is advisable to avoid traveling to locations that are infested with mosquitoes. According to experts, malaria increases the risk of abortion, premature birth, maternal death and still-birth.

For the most recent information about malaria and regions affected by malaria, you may visit WHO (World Health Organization) website. Spend time on the site and make yourself conversant with this information. You may even contact the CDC toll free number 1-800-232-4636.

Malaria is a global crisis. Many international agencies, governments, NGOs, community groups, research institutions, foundations and academic institutions are working sincerely to prevent malaria.

Wise saying “Prevention is better than cure” is definitely true when it comes malaria. The above-mentioned tips, if implemented meticulously, will definitely go a long way in protecting you and your loved ones from malaria.

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