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Five questions on: Malaria

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Profuse sweating is one of the most common symptoms of malaria

What is malaria?

Malaria is a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. It is vital for practice nurses to be aware that, if the condition isn’t diagnosed and treated promptly, it can be life threatening. Common symptoms include a high temperature, sweats and chills, headaches, vomiting, muscle pains, and diarrhoea.

It can also cause serious complications, including:

  • Severe anaemia – Red blood cells are unable to carry enough oxygen, leading to drowsiness and weakness
  • Cerebral malaria –Small blood vessels leading to the brain can become blocked, causing seizures, brain damage and coma

The 2014 World Malaria Report,1 published by the World Health Organization (WHO), estimated that there were in the region 198 million cases of malaria worldwide and 584,000 deaths in 2013.

How is it spread?

Malaria is caused by a type of parasite known as Plasmodium. These parasties come in many different, but only five cause malaria in humans.

The parasite is mainly spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes. Nurses should advise travelers that these insects mainly bite at dusk and at night. When an infected mosquito bites a human, it passes the parasites into the bloodstream.

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