Malaria is quite a common disease which spreads by mosquito sting. People living at places where there is lot of filth, dirt and standing water are more prone to contracting this disease. This is one of the major causes of death worldwide due to sickness. Timely treatment could result in cure but delay in treatment could be fatal. In case of people who live in areas where there are lots of mosquitoes, repeated infection could and will result in death. The main characteristics of malaria are fever with bouts of chill and sweating. The disease is severe in children below 5 years of age and they should be properly protected.
Malaria spreads when the infected mosquito bites someone. Malaria carrying mosquitoes generally bite at night time rather between dusk to dawn. Whereas mosquitoes carrying dengue and chikungunya bites during the day. Malaria can be contracted by blood transfusion if the blood infused is infected with malaria. Though there is no time or part of the year when malaria can be contracted, it can occur at any point of the year, but it is more prevalent during monsoons when the weather is hot and humid and provides ideal conditions for mosquitoes to breed. Water collects in ponds and puddles which provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Signs & Symptoms of Malaria in Kids
During the first two months of age the baby is not likely to get malaria because of the immunity got during pregnancy. As the child grows the immunity is lost. The symptoms do not start to show immediately after a mosquito bite but may take ten days to four weeks for the symptoms to appear. The symptoms are more severe in children below five. Though the symptoms in children above five or grownups are the same but the severity is reduced in older people. The symptoms are:
- Feeling of cold
- Irritability and drowsiness
- Poor appetite
- Rapid breathing
The symptoms of malaria resemble to a great extent with those of viral flu. In case the child has high fever and chill it is necessary to contact your doctor immediately. The doctor will order blood test which will give a definite indication of existence of malaria. In case the test is positive the child will be advised, in addition to taking medicines to:
- Complete rest at least for first few days.
- Light and healthy food with lot of fiber content.
- Frequent coverage of head and feet with wet clothes if the fever is high.
In case of dehydration or loss of consciousness, immediate shifting to the nearest hospital is recommended. This condition may occur due to continuous high fever and may affect the vital organs of the child. In such cases the child may require IV infusion of glucose. Blood transfusion may also be required.
It is said that prevention is better than cure. Steps should be taken to reduce the risk of the child getting malaria. The preventive methods could include:
- Keep the mosquitoes at bay and keep your surroundings clean and dry.
- Remove flower pots, vases and air coolers where water collects.
- Make your child wear light colored clothes. Dark color clothes attract mosquitoes.
- Try to make the child wear clothes which cover the body completely and the skin exposure is minimum.
- Stay in cool places like air conditioned environment as in this environment the mosquitoes do not thrive.
- Use mosquito net while the child sleeps. Many mosquito repellents are available in the market. Use preferably non smoke emitting type as the child may get allergic reaction from smoke.
- Keep the child away from bushes and hedges as mosquitoes loiter at such places.
- When going out with the child apply mosquito repelling cream on the exposed parts of the body of the child.
Anti malaria vaccines are available in all health centres and the child should be administered these medicines as suggested by the doctor. For older people, anti malaria pills are available. Two doses are advised by the doctor, since these are available as over the counter drugs you can consult the medicine vendor and take preventive dose.