Malaria is an infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites belonging to the Plasmodium family. The infection is transmitted by mosquitoes and affects both humans and other animals. The infection is transmitted to humans once the female anopheles mosquito carrying the parasite bites them. The parasite then enters the liver of the infected person, where it multiplies and grows and then goes into the bloodstream to affect red blood cells. This period between the mosquito bite and the physical manifestation of symptoms is called the incubation period and can range from 7 days to a year or more. In some cases, the parasite becomes dormant in the liver for a few months to a year and becomes active later, resulting in relapses.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent malaria infection in adults. There is a vaccine called RTS, S that is currently approved to vaccinate young children, but has a low efficacy rate. Research is still ongoing in this area to develop a vaccine for adults. Until now, it is highly recommended that anyone traveling to a region where there is a high prevalence of malaria take the necessary precautions to avoid being infected with malaria parasites.
There are mainly four recommended precautions called ABCD malaria protection principles. The first principle is to be aware of the disease, the second principle is to take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes at night, the third principle would be to take prophylactic treatment before your trip and the fourth principle is to consult a doctor within a few weeks. months after the trip is completed.
What is the best drug to prevent malaria?
There are mainly four medicines used for malaria prophylaxis. These include chloroquine, mefloquine, doxycycline and a combination of atovone and proguanil. Most of these medications are also used to treat acute illness. There is no recommended medicine for treatment. Your preference for choosing any treatment option depends on several factors.
One factor may be your preference for how often you take your medicine. Doxycycline and atovone / proguanos are taken daily versus mefloquine and chloroquine, which are taken weekly.
Another factor is that some of these medications need to be taken at least a week or two before the travel date for malaria prophylaxis to be achieved. As mefloquin needs to be started 2 weeks before departure, while chloroquine only needs 1 week. In addition, most of these medications also need to be continued for a period of time after returning from the travel location to be effective in preventing malaria. With the exception of atovone / proguanil which should be taken for 7 days after return, the remaining medicines should be taken for 4 weeks after return. This is because the malaria parasite is known to be dormant from a few weeks to a year in the liver of the infected individual and therefore medication is important to prevent a future attack of the infection.
Your travel location is also an important point of consideration. Certain medications are more effective in some regions and less effective in others. Like mefloquine is not very effective in certain regions of Southeast Asia.
In addition, certain pre-existing health conditions may contradict a certain drug. Mefloquine should be avoided in patients with a history of anxiety and depression . Children under 8 should not receive doxycycline as it is associated with tooth discoloration.
Therefore, there is no better treatment option for the general population. It is advisable to talk to your doctor before your travel date to discuss treatment options. Your doctor can help you choose the best treatment option for you based on your preference, place of travel, time of travel and your medical history.
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- How far in advance do you need to take malaria pills?
- Can malaria be treated with antibiotics?