Malaria Month: Malaria 101

Statistics

3000 people die each day because of Malaria

10 new cases every second

90% of malaria deaths are in Africa

In Burkina Faso, Malaria is the #1 cause of medical consultations, hospitalization, and death

Leading cause of death for children under 5 in Africa

What is Malaria?

Malaria in Burkina Faso is caused by the parasite P. Falciparus. Mosquitoes carry the parasites and it is transmitted from the blood of one infected person to another through mosquito bites. The parasites multiply in the liver and then move to the bloodstream.

There are two types of malaria, simple, and grave.

Simple Malaria – symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, and vomiting

Grave Malaria – symptoms include brown urine, hallucinations, yellow eyes and skin, anemia, weight loss, and breathing difficulties.

Simple malaria can be treated at home with atovaquone-proguanil

Grave malaria is serious and involves IV drips and can even cause death*

Simple malaria can become grave malaria if it is not immediately treated.

If Pregnant women, children 0-5, and first exposure patients (like PCVs, ex-pats, foreigners) contract malaria, it immediately becomes Grave Malaria. 

Prevention Methods

The best way to prevent Malaria is to sleep under an impregnated mosquito net coated with chemicals to kill mosquitoes on contact. Mosquito repellents, commercial or villageoises (NEEM CREAM!) can also be used. Standing water in the courtyard should also be eliminated to destroy mosquito breeding grounds. Wearing long sleeved shirts and pants can also prevent mosquito bites.

Malaria and PCVs

Every PCV who is serving in a malaria infested area must take chemoprophylaxis to prevent us from contracting malaria.  Peace Corps decides which malaria medication is right for each volunteer. Possible medications include Mefloquine (weekly), or Doxycycline (daily), with Malarone being used as a last resort because of its cost and decreased effectiveness. The medications limit the number of parasites in our bodies so that we do not develop malaria symptoms. The scary part is that every PCV with mosquito bites is carrying the parasite, and if we stop taking our medications, we can develop malaria. The most common cases of PCVs contracting malaria is when they forget to take their medication on vacations outside of malaria infested areas. When we finish our service we take primaquine as a terminal prophylaxis to finish off any remaining parasites. We are provided with impregnated mosquito nets and are supposed to sleep under them every night. Some PCVs also have impregnated tents which are great for sleeping outside when it is too hot.

Malaria and BF

Burkina Faso is a stable malaria country meaning that the parasites are around throughout the year. In the southern part of the country where it rains more throughout the year there tend to be more mosquitoes, in the northern part, there are less mosquitoes year round outside of rainy season because it rains less. Regardless of rain or lack thereof, Malaria is a serious problem in Burkina.

Testing

Even in remote areas of BF thanks to USAID Rapid Diagnostic Tests are available to detect in 15 minutes whether a patient has malaria or not using a couple drops of blood. Blood smears are also still used in bigger cities where microscopes are used to detect the parasites.

Treatment

Simple malaria is treated with combination therapy, and a wet pagne to help cool down the patient. Pregnant women can take prophylaxis during their second trimester, but if they contract malaria they will take quinine pills. A vaccine is in development in BF in Tenkodogo, but it has not yet been approved and tested for use.

What can you do to help?

Write a Blog about Malaria Month (BAMM)

Donate money to PCV projects against malaria

Share this blog with others to increase awareness and Spread the word about malaria – twitter, facebook, email

Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday, Let’s Stomp Out Malaria!

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