Malaria is a serious disease here in Nigeria. In 2018, there were 57 million estimated cases of Malaria in Nigeria (about a quarter of the population), and 97,200 deaths from malaria, according to the World Health Organisation. That puts into perspective just how serious, and deadly, the disease is. Most of the malaria infections in the country occur in the Southern part of the country due to the temperate climate and the abundance of wetlands, which allow mosquitoes to thrive.
There are drugs that can be taken to treat malaria and many of these drugs are quite effective, treating malaria in less than a week. Still, this has not helped to prevent deaths from happening. There have also been reports of people who have died from malaria even after taking the drugs. This is because the malaria comes back almost immediately.
Recurrent malaria is a problem on its own because of how bad it affects the body. Malaria weakens the body and it would take a while before one can get their body back in shape. Recurrent malaria prevents that because you can have another bout of malaria just one week after you thought you have recovered from the first bout of malaria. This means that your body would be too weak to even offer any resistance. This can be very severe and could even lead to death. This article provides you with helpful tips on how to prevent recurrent malaria. But before that, what causes recurrent malaria?
Causes of Recurrent Malaria
The three main causes of recurrent malaria are reinfection, recrudescence, or relapse.
Reinfection: this occurs when you have another mosquito bite, and get malaria again.
Recrudescence: this occurs when a malaria infection has remained in the blood at undetectable levels and then becomes detectable again. Some malaria parasites can persist as a low-level, without showing symptoms in humans for up to 5 to 16 days, or sometimes 40 or 50 years. Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium knowlesi, which lack hypnozoites are parasites that cause recrudescence of malaria.
Relapse: this occurs as a result of reactivation of dormant liver stage parasites, also known as hypnozoites found in Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale. When you are infected by P. vivax and P. ovale parasites, they can remain dormant in the liver for several months up to about 4 years after has been person is bitten by an infected mosquito. When these parasites stop hibernating and begin invading red blood cells the person will have malaria relapse.
What is the difference between relapse and recrudescence in malaria?
The parasites that cause relapse malaria are Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale. These parasites remain and then invade the red blood cells to cause malaria. While, the parasites that cause recrudescence malaria are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium knowlesi. These parasites remain at an undetectable level in the red blood cells for years, then are reactivated and cause malaria.
So next, we would be looking at some ways to prevent recurrent malaria.
Finish Your Dosage
The most important thing to do to prevent recurrent malaria is to finish the prescribed dosage. For example, one might be prescribed a malaria treatment to take 3 tablets of a malaria drug every evening for four days. When the person begins to find relief on the second night, they may then forget about taking the drugs. But this is quite dangerous as the malaria is still in your body at this time, although suppressed. Not continuing the dosage would only give the malaria the chance to resurface and it would hit harder since your body is still weak.
Make it a point to go through with your prescribed dosage to be on the safe side.
Use A Mosquito Net
If you live in a place where you experience malaria frequently, you should endeavour to sleep under a treated mosquito net. The mosquito net would keep mosquitoes out by killing them, keeping you safe. Using a malaria net would also make your night rest more peaceful as you would not be disturbed by the humming of the mosquitoes or their bites. The use of mosquito nets can also help to protect your baby from malaria.
Get Malaria Shots
Sometimes, oral drugs may not work well. In such a case, getting a malaria shot would be the best option you have. Shots are more direct as they get into the bloodstream directly and they are also more potent. Although not everyone can stand the pain of a shot, it offers better protection against the malaria virus, preventing any recurrence.
Take Antimalaria Medication
Antimalaria medications prevent you from contracting malaria. This can be very necessary, especially when moving to an area where you can be susceptible to the disease.
Primaquine is the only treatment available to prevent the relapse of P. vivax and P. ovale malaria. The drug is administered once daily for 14 days, to prevent and treat recurrent malaria. It kills the malaria parasites living in other body tissues.