The monsoon seasons turns conditions ripe for vector-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria in India every year. In India, the number of malaria cases have already witnessed a surge in Mumbai and Delhi, while Haryana is preparing to control dengue and malaria spread across the state. Needless to say, preventive measures against these diseases are necessary.

According to the 2021 World Malaria Report by the World Health Organization, an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths occured worldwide in 2020. While India was the only country from the world’s 11 highest burden countries to register progress against malaria, it still accounted for 83 percent of the estimated 241 million malaria cases.

Well, monsoon and malaria go hand-in-hand. When rain water remains clogged, it helps the breeding process for mosquitoes.

Dr Vikas Deswal, a senior consultant at Medanta Hospital, Gurugram, tells Health Shots about preventing malaria.

“In India, most malaria cases are usually seen in the monsoon and post-monsoon. The cases only begin to decline with the onset of winter. Malaria is transmitted by the bite of female anopheles mosquito and is caused by 5 species of plasmodium parasites.“

Malaria can have various side effects on your body. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the signs of malaria?

The clinical features associated with malaria, according to Dr Deswal, are:

* Fever
* Chills
* Excessive sweating
* Abdominal pain
* Muscle pain
* Nausea

The patient can also have signs of vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea and weakness. In some cases, people may notice headache and seizure, which may represent cerebrum malaria, the most severe form of the disease.

Patients should seek medical health as soon as possible and should get themselves diagnosed at the slightest sign or symptom.

How to handle malaria if you are affected

As per Dr Deswal, here are some tips on what to do when you’re affected by malaria:

* Consume a healthy and nutritious diet, which is rich in proteins and carbohydrates. Eat foods for quicker recovery.
* Avoid alcohol
* Stop smoking
* Don’t indulge in heavy or strenuous exercises
* Avoid further mosquito bites
* Wait for the fever to come down

healthy diet
Make sure you eat well for faster recovery. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Treatment

There are various treatment options available when it comes to malaria, but it largely depends on three different factors. These are:

1. Type of parasite that may have affected you.
2. Severity of the disease
3. Special propositions like HIV, diabetes, pregnancy etc.

A person diagnosed with malaria can recover within 7-10 days upon receiving proper treatment. However, severe cases may take a longer time for recovery.

Check out a Health Shots video by Dr Vikas Deswal on Malaria 101!

How to avoid malaria

You can use two approaches, suggests the expert:

1. Prevent a mosquito bite

* Applying insecticide can kill adult mosquitoes
* Sleep under nets to prevent mosquito bites.
* Sleeping nets treated with insecticides are recommended in areas where malaria and mosquitoes are endemic. Pay particular importance to pregnant women and young children who are more vulnerable.
* Use mosquito repellent sprays or creams.
* Wear fully covered clothes to reduce your exposure to the body.
* Dusk to morning is when mosquitoes are most active, and therefore caution should be practiced.

Also read: Don’t let malaria haunt you! Use these 6 essential oils as natural mosquito repellents

2. Prevent mosquito breeding

* Don’t let water remain stagnant because mosquitoes reproduce by putting their eggs in it. By covering or removing any stagnant water from your home, you can keep them away from your property. It’s important to routinely check buckets, coolers, and other containers for standing water. Put some oil in the puddles around your home as a helpful rainy-season idea.

* Clear the litter, and don’t let any garbage accumulate near your home, especially in the yards, gardens, or compounds. Mosquitoes frequently find hiding places in trash. Regularly remove trash from your home, and make sure the neighbourhood is kept tidy. Make sure the garbage is cleaned up and properly disposed of.

* Use physical barriers by installing mosquito screens on your doors and windows. This way, you can effectively prevent them from getting inside your house. Your home will be effectively mosquito-proof if you do this and use an excellent insect repellent.

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