to statistics published by the World
Health Organization, more than one million
people die of malaria every year, and
a vast majority of them are infants,
young children, and pregnant women.
Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America,
the Middle East, and some regions of
Europe are considered to be endemic
regions. Malaria is commonly associated
with poverty but is also a cause of
poverty and a major hindrance to the
economic development of a nation.
Causes and Risk
Malaria is a
vector-borne disease caused by parasites
of the genus Plasmodium that are spread
from person to person through the bites
of infected mosquitoes. Out of the 170
species of Plasmodium, only four (P.falciparum,
P.vivax, P.malariae, and P.ovale) actually
cause malaria in humans. These parasites
make a way into the human body, especially
into the liver, through their agents,
which are the infected mosquitoes. From
the liver, the parasites enter the bloodstream
and replace the red-blood cells by rapidly
multiplying. The female mosquitoes of
the Anopheles species typically act
as a vector transmitting the disease
through its bites.
and infection differs in intensity and
regularity depending on factors such
as rainfall patterns, location of mosquito
breeding sites, and mosquito species.
Some regions have a fairly constant
number of cases throughout the year
and are known as malaria endemic regions.
In other areas, malaria cases develop
on a cyclic basis, typically coinciding
with the rainy season. Large and devastating
epidemics of malaria can be triggered
by weather conditions and further aggravated
by complex emergencies or natural disasters.
can contract malaria, but there are
possibilities of susceptibility and
complications on account of the disease
in young children and pregnant women.
A pregnant woman afflicted by malaria
can also transmit the disease to her
unborn child. Those who have low immunity
or have had little or no contact with
the malaria parasite are also at a greater
risk of contracting malaria. Traveling
to an endemic region can also increase
the risk of contracting malarial infection.