May 24, 2022

Malaria – Symptoms, Diagnosis, and prevention

The most common infectious tropical disease is Malaria and an enormous public health issue. It is a parasitic disease characterized by fever, chills, and anemia caused by the malaria parasite, which is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. The four malaria parasites that can infect humans: are Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. One more species ;P. knowlesi, which naturally infects macaques in Southeast Asia & also infects humans, is transmitted from animal to human.

In most parts of the country, about 90% of malaria is unstable with relatively low incidence but with a risk of increasing cases in epidemic form every 7 to 10 or more years. Malaria mortality in India is only due to P. falciparum as it causes cerebral Malaria and may lead to death (48-52% of total cases).

The most common symptom of Malaria is fever with chills. The other associated symptoms may include headache, cough, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and muscle or joint pain. The first few symptoms of Malaria ( fever, chills, sweats, headaches, muscle pains, nausea, and vomiting) are often not specific. They are also found in other diseases (such as the “flu” and common viral infections. In addition, the physical findings, elevated temperature, perspiration, and tiredness are often not specific, leading to an incorrect diagnosis.

Despite advances in medical technology, Malaria remains endemic in 104 countries. As a result, parasite-based diagnosis (Antigen) is increasing worldwide. However, most suspected cases of Malaria are still not diagnosed accurately, resulting in over-use of antimalarial drugs and poor disease monitoring.

Malaria can be treated in 2 days if a timely diagnosis is performed. However, delays in diagnosis/treatment can be fatal.

Malaria diagnosis by rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) based on antigen ( HRP-2 /pLDH) detection is recommended by WHO for all patients before administering treatment.

As per NACO guidelines, all blood units in a blood bank must be tested for malaria parasites using a validated and sensitive antigen test. Malaria Diagnosis is usually preferred by using ELISA ‘an Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, a screening test used to detect Plasmodium species based on pLDH Antigen inpatient whole blood. In Blood Banks & Labs equipped with ELISA Reader and washer, prefer processing a large number of samples in a 96 microwell plate with a turnaround time of 2 -3 hours for 90 samples.

Malaria Rapid diagnostic Card tests (RDTs) based on antigen ( HRP-2 /pLDH) detection are visual tests with a user-friendly test procedure. There is no need for a skilled microscopist & and equipment to provide accurate test results within 20 minutes. These are based on lateral immunochromatography sandwich immunoassay, and their performance is validated against well-characterized panels of Malaria parasites as per intended use.

J Mitra & Co. offers both ELISA (Malaria Ag Microlisa) & a wide range of 5 different Rapid Antigen card tests for screening and diagnosis of Malaria parasites based on HRP-2 &/OR pLDH antigen.

Malaria is a serious illness; however, one can lower the risk of infection by taking preventative measures; protecting oneself from mosquito bites, and intermittent treatment with antimalarial and insecticide-treated bed nets. As a result, there will be a decline in malaria cases by 84.4 percent and their deaths by 83.6 percent in 2020.

Awareness about the disease, continual use of preventative measures & an early and accurate diagnosis is essential for effective management of the disease and solid malaria surveillance.

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