Malaria is an acute parasitic infection. The causative micro-organism is neither a virus nor a bacterium, but a unicellular parasite called the malarial parasite, which belongs to the genus Plasmodium. While the Plasmodium parasite is one of the main causes of malaria, there are several other factors that contribute significantly to the spread of this disease.
An In-Depth Look At The Causes Of Malaria
Here is a detailed look at the various possible causes of malaria.
Mosquitoes – The Transmitters Of Malaria
Malaria is an infectious disease that is usually transmitted by female (Anopheles) mosquitoes that are also known as malarial vectors. There is a high possibility of contracting the malarial infection if you’ve been bitten by an infected Anopheles mosquito, especially at dawn or dusk during the rainy season.
The spread of the malarial parasite is a two-way process. When a mosquito carrying the parasite bites a human or an animal, the parasite enters the bloodstream of the latter.
Similarly, when a mosquito bites a person or an animal infected with malaria, the parasite gets transmitted to the intestine of the mosquito.
In both the cases, the parasite grows and multiplies rapidly once it enters the bloodstream of the recipient and enables the spread of the infection further.
Once the parasite enters the human body via the bloodstream, it attacks the red blood cells, infecting them and causing them to rupture. As these parasites spread through the person’s body, the symptoms of malaria begin to manifest.
Transfusion Of Contaminated Blood
If a person happens to receive blood contaminated with the malarial parasite during the course of a blood transfusion, then he is prone to malaria. For this reason, a person who has had an attack of malaria is usually advised against donating blood for a period of at least six months after his complete recovery.
Illiteracy And A Lack of Awareness About The Disease
Many people, especially those from rural areas, are unaware that malaria can be transmitted through activities like blood transfusion and the sharing of needles during intravenous drug abuse. This lack of awareness does not help counter the spread of this infection.An important point to note is that malaria can also be transmitted from an expectant mother to her unborn fetus, through the placenta.
Poor Hygiene And Sanitation
A poor sanitary environment is also one of the causes of malaria. The rainy season is highly conducive to the breeding and multiplication of mosquitoes, which carry the malarial parasite. Also, environments with stagnant water, open pools of dirty water, or the presence of uncovered garbage pits serve as favorable breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Such unsanitary and unhygienic conditions increase the occurrence and spread of malaria.
Social And Economic Factors
In many cases, the living conditions of the people raise the chances of the occurrence of malarial infection. Economic constraints often stop many people from taking the necessary measures to protect themselves from malaria. Also, a lack of awareness about the disease hinders the timely diagnosis of malaria and treatment of the disease.
Incubation Period And The Onset Of Symptoms
The duration between the initial entry of the infecting parasite into your a person’s body and the onset of malarial symptoms is called the incubation period. This period differs depending upon the species of the malarial parasite that has caused the infection. It generally ranges from around 9-14 days for Plasmodium Falciparum, 12-18 days for Plasmodium Vivax and Plasmodium Ovale, 18-40 days for Plasmodium Malariae, and about 11-12 days for Plasmodium Knowlesi.
The Plasmodium Vivax and Plasmodium Ovale parasites can continue to remain in the patient’s liver in an inactive form, occasionally releasing mature parasites into the blood and causing recurrent attacks of malaria.
The causes of malaria can be countered to a large extent by making it difficult for mosquitoes to breed and by creating public awareness about malaria prevention. Begin your war on malaria by protecting yourself from mosquitoes, and you’ll hopefully never have to go through malaria treatment measures.