There are a great number of diseases that are endemic in many of the poorer, developing nations due to the lack of sanitation and disease prevention programs in these areas. The steady increase of malaria epidemics in many of the African countries is a point of great concern, because this continent is home to 90% of the world’s total cases of this particular disease.
Malaria gets its name from “mal aria,” meaning bad air, because patients used to blame the sudden illness on the poor air quality of the nearby swamps. Scientists now know that malaria is a parasitic infection caused by a single-celled protozoan, Plasmodium. Of the four types of this parasite, Plasmodium falciparum is recognized as the most dangerous and lethal string that infects human beings. The female Anopheles mosquito transmits the disease through its saliva, and the protozoan enters the bloodstream and is carried to the liver. The indications of the illness can appear within a week of the exposure or it can take up to a year for the effects to become noticeable. Malaria has many flu-like symptoms, such as headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, sweating, tiredness, and general muscle pain. These characteristics are attributed to many forms of illness, which can prove difficult in the diagnosis of this serious disease early enough for effective treatment.
The treatment of malaria is commonly administered in the form of a DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) antibiotic. This drug works to eliminate the parasite from the patients blood stream and, therefore, limit the chance of communicating the disease and infecting other people. The drug also significantly reduces the frequency of severity of the patient’s symptoms, making them feel better almost immediately. The one risk associated with this drug is that some of the strings of Plasmodium are becoming resistant and, therefore, unaffected by this drug. This is largely due to the misuse of the prescription antibiotic and a lack of education on how to properly take the medication. The symptoms of malaria will sometimes be alleviated in a very short time of taking the antibiotic and patients will stop refilling their prescription, assuming that they have been cured. The medication should still be taken, however, to insure that the infection has been eliminated from the body completely, not to return again with an increased severity as happens in some patients. The misuse of antibiotic drugs contributes to the growing number of resistant populations of Plasmodium, a chief concern in the care of malarial patients, because these patients do not respond to the DDT antibiotics and, therefore, must seek alternative methods of treatment.
Unlike that of many other diseases that, unfortunately, plague the world’s population today, the technology exists for the prevention, treatment, and cure of malaria and it is widely used. The prevalence of the disease in many of the tropical...