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Fighting the Malaria Menace

The danger
There is an emergence of drug resistant strains of malaria worldwide on which conventional medicines may not be effective. Hence, proper medical guidance is mandatory. Delay in diagnosis and treatment in such case, may lead to death, especially in falciparum malaria.
Prevention is better than cure
The best way to prevent malaria is by avoiding mosquito bite. Always use mosquito nets, which are far superior to repellents like cream, coil or electric gadgets. Coils especially, are injurious to the lungs and should never be lit around children and those with respiratory diseases like asthma. Formal Ultra Violet (UV) repellants are effective in close space.

Never allow water stagnation in and around the household since most malaria mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Old unused tyres, containers, construction sites are common breeding grounds. A community effort could be undertaken to prevent water stagnation in these areas. Clean your water tank at least once a week and change the water of your flower vase often. Involve children in these activities to make the initiative even more successful.

Government health advice and the World Health Organization advocate prompt malaria treatment in endemic areas where there is no facility for malaria detection. Lately, malaria antigen testing is being used, which is much more sensitive than the conventional smear test and has higher detection rate. It is a notifiable disease, i.e., when one is detected with malaria, the healthcare provider will inform about it to the appropriate civic authority to ensure proper mosquito eradication measures.

Travel safe
If you are traveling to a malaria-prone area, do not forget to take appropriate prophylaxis by consulting your local healthcare provider, and take precautions to protect yourself from the bite. While such measures are adequate for travelers, they are not applicable to the residents of the endemic area. A vaccine against this disease is yet to be developed, but with awareness and active prevention measures, we can win the battle against malaria with greater ease.

Home care for a malaria patient

  • Always keep the patient inside the mosquito net.
  • Strictly maintain hygiene.
  • A normal diet can be given.
  • Plenty of fluids need to be given to the patient.
  • Elderly people, infants and those who are sick have greater susceptibility, and are likely to have a greater morbidity and mortality in case of malaria. So if possible, keep them away from the patient, till he/she recovers.
  • If the patient becomes unresponsive, delirious or comatose, immediately rush him/her to a hospital with good intensive care facility.

Dr Dhiman Sen, Dr Milan Chhetri, Dr Syamasis Bandyopadhyay, and Dr S K Das work with the Department of Internal Medicine, Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Kolkata. 

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