Doesn't malaria belong to the past?
During the last decades, the massive population movement towards malaria endemic countries worldwide has led to introduction of imported malaria cases in non-endemic developed countries. In addition, the climatic changes (increased levels of temperature and humidity) favor the growth and proliferation of malaria vectors (moσquitoes).
Is malaria transmitted from human to human?
No. Malaria is not transmitted through social contact, cough droplets or sexual contact but through infected mosquito bites. A mosquito bites an infected person; then, the infected mosquito transmits the malaria parasite (plasmodium) to the next person it bites. Less common ways of transmission are blood transfusion and from the mother to the fetus.
Do all kinds of mosquitoes transmit malaria?
No. Only female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria.
Where do Anopheles mosquitoes live and reproduce?
Anopheles mosquitoes live and proliferate in clean standing water, in warm climates with high levels of humidity.
Do anopheles mosquitoes exclusively feed on human blood?
No. Naturally, anopheles mosquitoes feed on nectar and fruit juices. Only the female anopheles mosquito, during pregnancy, seek human blood as it wants to use the blood nutrients for the growth of its eggs. Apart from humans, it can bite other mammals.
When someone gets ill with malaria, does he/she gets immune for the rest of his/her life?
No. Illness with malaria does not provide immunity for future infections.
Malaria endemic countries residents, due to continous infections from the parasite, they develop a form of semi-immunity, that is lost after a long stay in a non-endemic region.
Are malaria symptoms easily recognized?
Malaria, in its mild form, may mimic many other infectious diseases, while it usually remids us of flu, fact that results in malaria remaining undiagnosed. On the other hand, fever may have a typical form of tertian (febrile exacerbation every 48 hours) or quartan fever (every 72 hours).
Which is the responsible pathogen for the disease in humans?
The responsible pathogen is a parasite, the plasmodium. There are five plasmodium species that infect humans (P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale, P. knowlesi) with P. falciparum and P. vivax being the most frequent.
Do all plasmodium species cause the same symptoms?
No. Plasmodium falciparum causes serious illness with complications from many vital organs (brain, liver, etc.) and is the responsible plasmodium for the largest proportion of malaria deaths, in contrast to the other species that usually cause mild symptoms.
If someone gets infected, will he/she immediately have symptoms?
No. Symptoms usually appear after two weeks, and concerning Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale, clinical manifestations may appear even after 6-12 months after infection due to dormant parasite forms in the liver.
If someone become ill form malaria, does he need to be hospitalized in a specialized center and isolated?
No. Malaria disease does not require a special health unit, except for complicated (severe) malaria that may need Intensive Care Unit measures. The patients does not have to be isolated as malaria is not transmitted from person to person.
Does chemoprophylaxis before traveling to a malaria endemic country fully protect a person from malaria?
No. None regimen -given as chemoprophylaxis- does not provide 100% protection from infection but does provide protection for severe disease and death.
When malaria symptoms abate, can the patient stop getting antimalarials?
No. Antimalarial regimen should be strictly followed until completion, even if symptoms draw back, in order to eliminate the parasite, avoid relapses and obviate transmission via mosquitoes to other people.
If any side effects appear, should the patient stop taking the antimalarial regimen?
No. In case of mild disturbances (e.g. symptoms from gastrointestinal system) the patient should not stop taking the drugs, while in case of serious side effects (e.g. neuropsychiatric disturbances from mefloquine) the patient should immediately ask for medical advice.
Is there a vaccine that protects people from malaria?
No. Even though there are lots of research programmes towards this direction, currently there is not a vaccine. It is estimated that the first malaria vaccine will be released in 2015.