Don’t let malaria get you down

Timely medical intervention, drinking lots of fluids and resting for a few days should set you right when malaria strikes – but it is also important to check if your surroundings are prone to the disease.

Malaria has become fairly common in hot continents like Asia and Africa, but the disease has also assumed virulent proportions in recent years. While there are more cases of malaria recovery, there are also more cases of malarial deaths than before. It appears that the virus causing the disease has mutated into a deadlier form, and it is increasingly becoming difficult to treat it if help is sought later rather than sooner. For the uninitiated, the cause of malaria is often an infected female Anopheles mosquito biting a human being, thereby transferring the plasmodium parasite (that causes the infection) into the human’s bloodstream.

Some of the causes of malaria include…

…stagnant pools of fresh water, which become breeding sites for mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes may also breed in them.

…infected mosquitoes biting human beings and transferring the virus to the latter’s bloodstream.

…healthy mosquitoes getting infected by biting infected humans, and becoming carriers of the infection.

What can you do to prevent malaria?

Despite the prevalence of malaria over centuries, around the world, there is no cure for the disease yet. At best, there are strong preventive measures you can take to prevent the occurrence of malaria – which often includes deterring the mosquitoes from biting in the first place, or preventing them from breeding. At the same time, modern medicine provides solutions for suppressing the symptoms of the disease rather than treating the causes of malaria.

Prevention is the only way to avoid getting malaria. While a lot is known about the causes of malaria, there is not enough medication that constitutes an effective cure for the disease. Till a cure is found, it is important to practice some good habits and take simple steps to safeguard yourself and your loved ones.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent the occurrence of malaria:

* When the monsoon season rolls around, walk outside your house and inspect if any sources of standing water have been formed. These are found in society swimming pools, on rooftops, old tires, spare buckets or containers of water, etc. If such sites have been formed, they must be drained before mosquitoes get a chance to lay eggs in them. Inform the civic authorities of the same and request for the area to be fumigated.

* Conduct a similar inspection of your house. Drain all standing water from plant and flower pots, and keep buckets empty – cover with a lid if you need to store water.

* Keep the inside of the house as moisture-free as possible. Investing in a dehumidifier or switching on the AC (at room temperature) is a good idea. Mosquitoes thrive in warm, humid environments. A dry and cool environment is repellent to mosquitoes.

* Keep yourself and your loved ones safe from dangerous and infected mosquitoes. Just one bite is enough to transfer the infection that results in malaria. After being bitten, the infection typically incubates in the system for anywhere between three days to a week. After the incubation period, you begin to experience the different signs and symptoms of malaria. These include fever, sore or painful throat, cold, nausea, headache, chills, and body pain.

* Keep a can of mosquito killer spray like Mortein handy when you see a lot of mosquitoes buzzing around the house. Close all the doors and windows, and spray the room – go under the furniture and in corners, where mosquitoes hide. The spray flushes out the lurking creatures and kills them, thus making the room safe for use.

* If you don’t want to spray the room, especially if you are afraid of the effect it will have on your old parents and/or your children and pets, you can plug in an electrical mosquito killer. The heating implement in the device releases the mosquito killing liquid solution in vapour form into the air. The vapour spreads all over the room and flushes out mosquitoes. This is a good strategy to adopt for bedtime, which makes the room safe for sleeping in. The vapour also has no bad effects on children, senior citizens and pets.

* You can use a mosquito killer card as well – light it and let the smoke emanate from it, to spread around the room and kill lurking mosquitoes.

* All good mosquito killers – sprays, electrical plug-ins or cards – create a repellent atmosphere so that new mosquitoes are deterred from entering inside the house.