Malaria is a serious tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. If malaria is not diagnosed and treated promptly, it can be fatal. A single mosquito bite is all it takes for someone to become infected – but it is preventable. The disease is transmitted by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito.
There are four types of malaria that commonly affect humans: Plasmodium falciparum (which is responsible for the vast majority of malaria deaths), Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae. There is a fifth type, Plasmodium knowlesi, which is a parasite that usually infects monkeys, but cases of malaria caused by P. knowlesi have recently been reported in humans in South East Asia, and in 2006 the first case was reported in the UK.
Malaria is endemic in more than 100 countries worldwide, where approximately 3 billion people are at risk of infection. It mainly affects tropical parts of Africa, South and Central America, Hispaniola, Oceania, Asia, and the Middle East. Approximately 250 million cases and 1 million deaths are reported each year; the heaviest burden is in Africa, where the majority of deaths from malaria worldwide occur each year, mostly in children. Malaria does not occur naturally in the UK but travel-associated cases are reported in those who have travelled to or arrived (either as a visitor or migrant to the UK) from malaria-endemic areas. Since 1990, between 1370 and 2500 cases of malaria (caused by all types) have been reported in the UK each year, with between four and 16 deaths. Occasionally cases of malaria are reported in the UK where no travel history or medical procedures have been identified. These cases may occur as a result of an infected mosquito being brought into the UK from a malaria endemic country by plane (airport malaria) or in someone’s baggage (baggage malaria) and surviving long enough to bite a nearby person before it dies.
Malaria risk areas
Malaria is found in more than 100 countries, mainly in tropical regions of the world including:
- large areas of Africa and Asia
- Central and South America
- Haiti and the Dominican Republic
- parts of the Middle East
- some Pacific islands, such as Papua New Guinea
Malaria is not a problem in the UK.
Often the first symptom is a non-specific flu-like illness with fever, sweats and chills. Other symptoms can include malaise, myalgia (muscle pain), headache, diarrhoea and cough. Malaria caused by P. falciparum can progress to become a severe and life-threatening illness if not diagnosed and treated promptly, leading to cerebral malaria which can cause coma and death.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of malaria if you are travelling to areas where there is a high malaria risk (see below). Symptoms include:
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- sweats and chills
- muscle pains
Symptoms can develop as quickly as seven days after being bitten, although they usually appear between 10 to 15 days afterwards.
In some cases, the symptoms may not appear for up to a year or, occasionally, even longer.
You should seek the advice of a licensed health practitioner if you develop the symptoms of malaria, even if it’s several months after your trip.
How long can you have the infection before developing symptoms?
The incubation period of malaria (the time from when the parasite enters the body, to the development of symptoms) varies depending on which Plasmodium species is causing the infection. During this incubation period the parasite undergoes an initial period of development in the liver, after which it infects red blood cells. For P. falciparum, the incubation period is 7-14 days. For P. vivax and P. ovale infection, the incubation period is typically 12-18 days, but can be a lot longer (months or years in some cases) due to a longer liver stage.
Malaria is caused by a type of parasite known as Plasmodium. There are many different types of Plasmodia parasites, but only five cause malaria in humans.
The Plasmodium parasite is mainly spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes, which are night-biting mosquitos. When an infected mosquito bites, it injects the parasites into your body.
If malaria is diagnosed and treated promptly, virtually everyone will make a full recovery. Treatment should be started as soon as the diagnosis has been confirmed.
Treatment will vary depending on:
- the type of malaria
- the severity of your symptoms
- where you caught malaria
- whether you are pregnant
Pregnancy and malaria
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that pregnant women should avoid travelling to areas where there is a risk of malaria.
If you get malaria while pregnant, you and your baby have an increased risk of developing complications. There is also a higher risk of premature birth, stillbirth and miscarriage (loss of the pregnancy during the first 23 weeks).
Consult your licensed health practitioner if you’re pregnant and travelling to a high-risk area.
Eat an organic, whole foods diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and minimizes carbohydrates (avoiding refined carbohydrates and sugars altogether).
Vitamin A and Zinc – a study carried out in Burkino Faso, Africa, among infants and young children discovered that both of these supplements (when taken together) were effective in protecting against malaria because of their ability to strengthen the immune system. The study was conducted by researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health, and from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria. It was published in the journal Nutrition Journal. Vitamin A is also essential for wound-healing.
Vitamin E: Stimulates the production of natural killer cells (NK-Cells) that seek out and destroy germs.
Beta Carotene: It increases the resistance for infections.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications, but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually disease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr. Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
. Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here or go to www.thetappingsolution.com or www.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
Chinese herb transformed into western world’s cure for malaria: www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/583-chinese-herb-transformed-into-western-medicines-cure-for-malaria.html
Guidelines on cultivating artemisia as malaria cure: www.news-medical.net/news/2007/03/12/22552.aspx
Massachusetts targets killer mosquitoes with aerial spraying: www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/17/us-usa-massachusetts-mosquitoes-idUSBRE86G1AV20120717
Massachusetts takes fresh steps against dangerous mosquitoes: www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/08/us-usa-massachusetts-mosquitoes-idUSBRE8771NX20120808
Papaya Leaves – A Traditional anti-malaria medicine: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uym8OTNhnsU
Malaria breakthrough: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLf1eAXjU_0
Can a Chinese herb win the Malaria war: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/194160.stm
Vitamin A and zinc provide resistance to malaria: www.naturalnews.com/023400_vitamin_A_zinc_Malaria.html
Further Information (links and books)
The Making of a Tropical Disease by Randall M. Packard; The Fever: How Malaria has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years by Sonia Shah.