Only WE Can Wipe Out Malaria!
One Hundred Million Dead! Malaria has already killed more than one hundred million of us. It has methodically terrorized human kind for thousands of years. Malaria plagued ancient Rome, killed Alexander the Great and in the twentieth century claimed more lives than World Wars 1, 11, Korea, and Vietnam combined. Malaria still infects three thousand children every day while the number of its dead spirals to unbelievable levels. Malaria is preventable. WE have the resources, the knowledge, and the power to rid this scourge from the earth forever. Shamefully, we lack the will to do it.
Science Can Prevail
More than a hundred years ago dedicated scientists discovered that the female anopohlies mosquito was the carrier of the dreaded disease. Others relying on aboriginal, eastern and Egyptian codices proved that plant based remedies, such as quinine and artemisins, could mitigate the effects of the disease.
Daring researchers, experimenting in a realm that would forever change our view of the environment, invented DDT and other insecticides that annihilated the anopheles mosquito allowing Malaria to be wiped out in most of the western world. Sadly, when stupidly misused, these same chemicals threatened the flora and fauna which are critical to human existence. Widespread use of DDT was banned. Malaria continued to flourish, and kill, in tropical regions of the world.
Today, the ubiquitous female anopheles has developed immunity to older drug treatments. The world’s pharmaceutical companies and great academic research institutions are still in a desperate struggle to not only better understand Malaria but to develop a vaccine or other medication to cure the disease.
Innovative scientists are developing a star wars laser which in sci-fi imagery could eliminate the planet of disease bearing mosquitoes. Academic institutions through genetic engineering are focusing on eliminating the carrier all together and preventing the female anopheles mosquito from reproducing. We have the knowledge to defeat Malaria.
Why We Must Wipe Out Malaria
Simply put, the time has come to rid this scourge from earth. The human toll inflicted by Malaria is just too great to be allowed to continue. If we are successful in genetically altering the anopheles mosquito, laser disintegrating mosquitoes, and developing a vaccine these same technologies may be able to be deployed to eliminate other mosquito born diseases such as Dengue, Rift Valley and Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus, encephalitis and other insect borne diseases. The resulting contribution to humanity would be enormous.
What Can We Do?
Create awareness by reminding everyone you know that Malaria CAN be wiped out. And WE must succeed. The more noise we intiiate dialogue about Malaria, and the urgent need to eliminate it, the more likely the required global resources will be deployed to the fight.
And, text, e-mail, writes or leave a phone message to the most powerful person in the world the President of the United States.
Imagine the impact if We, and a few million of our friends, family, and colleagues, inundated the President with a simple message “Wipe Out Malaria, Now”
“What is malaria?
Malaria is a potentially fatal tropical disease that’s caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium. It’s spread through the bite of an infected female mosquito.
The infected person may have feverish attacks, influenza-like symptoms, tiredness, diarrhoea or a whole range of other symptoms.
Malaria should always be suspected if these symptoms occur within the first year of return from an infected area, and a test should be carried out to exclude the possibility of malaria as soon as possible.
Malaria is one of the leading causes of disease and death in the world. It is estimated that there are 300 to 500 million new cases every year, with 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths worldwide.
Malaria occurs extensively in tropical and subtropical regions.
It used to exist in the UK but fortunately no longer does.
In recent years, about 1,500 people have returned to Britain with malaria that they have contracted abroad – and, of these, an average of 12 die. For this reason it’s important to prevent malaria in those travelling to and from the tropics.
What causes malaria?
The malaria parasite, Plasmodium, is a small, single-cell organism (protozoan) that lives as a parasite in man and a specific species of mosquito (Anopheles).
There are four different types of malaria parasite: Plasmodium falciparum is the cause of fatal malaria, while Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae cause more benign types of malaria. Falciparum malaria can kill, but the other forms are much less likely to prove fatal.
There are several stages in the life cycle of the parasite, and by and large these are the same for all four types.
How do you catch malaria?
Malaria is passed on by the female Anopheles mosquito biting a person who has malaria parasites in their blood.
The parasites develop in the intestine and salivary glands of the mosquito and can be passed on to other people the next time the mosquito bites.
In man, the parasite travels to the liver via the blood and then out into the bloodstream again, where it invades the red blood corpuscles (the cells which carry oxygen in the blood).
Malaria can also be passed on by blood transfusions and the use of infected needles.
Where does malaria occur?
Malaria occurs where the Anopheles mosquito lives – ie particularly in hot, humid climates.
Plasmodium falciparum is by far the most important malaria parasite in Africa.
There are also areas in: Latin America, Asia, and Oceania, where fatal malaria still occurs.
Plasmodium vivax is the most common in Asia and Latin America, including Central America.
What are the symptoms of the disease?
Normally, 10 to 15 days go by between being infected and the onset of the disease, but it may be longer if the patient has taken a preventive medicine.
On a purely practical level, the most fatal (Plasmodium falciparum) cases develop within three months of leaving the malaria region, while the forms transmitted by Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale have been recorded to appear up to 22 months later.
Malaria malariae (a rare, benign form) can survive in man for up to 30 years, luckily without causing much discomfort. This form can also be treated, provided you get the right medication.
The actual attacks of malaria develop when the red blood corpuscles burst, releasing a mass of parasites into the blood. The attacks do not begin until a sufficient number of blood corpuscles have been infected with parasites.
What are the characteristics of a malaria attack?
The attack may be what is called uncomplicated or severe.
Classic symptoms would be:
The attack begins with fever, with the temperature rising as high as 40ÂºC and falling again over a period of several hours
a poor general condition, feeling unwell and having headaches like influenza
diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting often occur as well.
When the temperature drops, the patient often sweats profusely and feels much better. Then the same day, or one to two days later, further attacks occur with feeling generally unwell, high temperature and so on.
The attacks diminish in the course of a number of weeks, if the patient develops the ability to resist the malaria parasite. But if proper treatment is given, the fever and parasites can disappear within a few days.
But malaria can feel like mild flu. Tiredness can be the only initial symptom or to make diagnosis even more difficult, just simple diarrhoea.
If a case shifts to severe malaria, the classic symptoms above would be expected with increased drowsiness, leading to coma and associated failure of all the major organ systems.
No-one is ever completely immune to malaria, but the concept of semi or partial immunity exists, in which attacks are less severe and less likely to kill. But the price for this is multiple exposures (which kill many children).
Many people form Africa and India assume they have full or partial immunity to malaria, and these people who visit friends and relatives abroad (VFRs) compromise the largest numbers of imported malaria cases in the UK.
In severe malaria the illness may evolve with a number of complications:
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
- kidney failure
- possible haemorrhage (bleeding)
- effects on the liver (eg infectious jaundice)
- shock and coma may also develop, and the condition may prove fatal.
- Cerebral malaria
- Severe falciparum malaria can affect the brain and the rest of the central nervous system. It’s characterised by changes in the level of consciousness, convulsions and paralysis.
In severe falciparum malaria a large number of the red blood corpuscles are destroyed. Haemoglobin (the red pigment) from the blood corpuscles is excreted in the urine, which therefore is dark and almost the colour of cola.
If someone with a benign form of malaria is untreated, anaemia and an enlarged spleen may develop after days or weeks.
Ability to resist malaria attacks
Partial Immunity to malaria develops very slowly and is quickly lost (some estimate within 6 months of leaving the exposure area).
On average one child dies every 30 seconds from malaria in these countries.
It’s important to remember that nationals from malarious areas, who return home for holidays, need the same malaria protection as ordinary travellers because partial immunity develops slowly and is rapidly lost.
What can you do yourself?
There’s no risk of catching malaria in the UK. But if you visit tropical and subtropical countries, it’s important to investigate the chances of catching malaria.
Because the situation can change rapidly: you should talk to a doctor, travel clinic or pharmacist before planning your trip, both as regards to products for malaria prevention and also for expert advice on avoiding other dangers and diseases.
Prevention of malaria is important. If you travel to a region where malaria is prevalent, you should take preventive medication against the parasite and take whatever steps you can to avoid being bitten.
How is the disease diagnosed?
The symptoms of malaria are similar to those of many other diseases and infections that can cause fever or upset the stomach.
Therefore you should always tell your doctor if you have been abroad, especially if you’ve been to the tropics in the last 12 months.
The gold standard actual diagnosis is made by detecting the parasite in the blood. This is done using a special product mixed with one to two drops of the patient’s blood and spreading it on a microscope slide. This is then stained and examined carefully under a microscope.
But many laboratories in the UK and overseas now use rapid antibody based screening tests.
The examination may have to be repeated if the fever has only just begun or preventive medication is to some extent keeping the numbers of the malaria parasite low.
The treatment of malaria normally calls for admission to hospital because it may be falciparum malaria that can have a fatal outcome in only a few days or hours.
Outpatient treatment or, worse still, self-treatment of malaria is something only to be undertaken when no qualified medical help is available, ie if you develop malaria in a remote area.
The same antimalarial agents may be used to treat malaria as to prevent it. But if you have caught malaria in spite of using the correct preventive medication, a different product should be used to combat the possibility of resistant parasites.”