Up until I was eleven years old, I couldn’t understand how a tiny insect could wreak so much havoc. For all I knew, they were annoying little organisms that hummed off-key in my ear until I eventually swatted them off. The enormity of what they could do became clearer to me as I grew older and had a near-death stint with malaria. Different people all over the world, in one way or another have had an experience with malaria. 3.2 billion people in 106 countries live in high risk of malaria transmission. Right from history, malaria has influenced a great deal of human health wealth and overall well-being, therefore making the mosquito the deadliest insect in the world.
According to the World Health Organization, over half of the world’s population is at risk of having malaria if it isn’t addressed fully. The subsets of people who are most susceptible to this disease are children, pregnant women and non-immune adventure travelers. If you’re a free-spirit adventurer like me and love to travel, it is absolutely important that you load up on all the shots and vaccines that you need. Many of you might be asking; “Without these vaccines, what’s the worst that could happen?”
Let me create a scenario for you:
You go on vacation, the food is great, the locals are amazing and the sights are next to none. You dive right in, and begin to engage in almost every tourist activity. You love this place, It’s great. Of course a few tiny bugs have bitten you here and there, but it’s not really a big deal, (or so you think) and so you go about your day, without any protection at all. You’re sure you’ll be fine because everything else seems to be going fine. Two days later, you begin to feel dizzy, feverish, unable to eat or digest food properly. Before long, you are bedridden, cold and nauseous. “what gives?” you ask “It must be the food”; you say, but it’s not. What’s actually happening at this point is that you have been infected with malaria.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a life threatening disease that manifests itself after a mosquito bites a mammal, and it’s parasite gets introduced into the bloodstream. In order to fully understand malaria, it is important to look at the parasite behind it; the mosquito. A mosquito is a tiny, long-legged fly insect which belongs to the family Culicidae. The bloodsucking antics of a female mosquito are what actively work to induce malaria and other deadly ailments such as yellow fever, Zika virus, and the west Nile virus to name a few. Malaria exists mainly because mosquitoes need to eat and so they feed off of the blood of mammals.
It is important to know about malaria in its entirety because it affects multitudes of millions of people around the globe, and it is a big deal that you should care about, and here is why:
Malaria Could Kill You
Despite media reports and historic compilations that show that malaria is found mainly in third world countries outside of the United States, knowledge about malaria is still imperative for Americans, because every year, at least 2,100 Americans are diagnosed with malaria after they travel to malaria endemic countries. When acute malaria occurs, and drugs are not immediately available, this could heighten and complicate the situation beyond repair. On the other hand, if the drugs are available, but the parasites in the human body are simply resistant to them, the malaria infection could potentially develop to anemia, hypoglycemia or cerebral malaria, which is the most complicated neurological caused by plasmodium falciparum. Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest specie of plasmodium which is the original virus that causes malaria. When cerebral malaria occurs, capillaries that carry blood to the brain are blocked and at that point, the free flow of blood is inhibited. This condition can cause comas, life-long learning disabilities, and eventually, death. On the bright side, malaria is curable and preventable so this can be curbed.
For some of us who prefer organics, natural remedies can serve as a cure for the virus as well. Here are few natural remedies that have worked over the years:
By simply adding grapefruit to your diet, you can effectively cut the malaria-inducing parasites in your blood stream. This would be a viable option if for any reason you find yourself infected with the virus with no immediate access to healthcare. Grapefruits are also very delicious and amazing for promoting overall health and well-being.
A smart way to tackle malaria head on is to first cut its symptoms, which are fever and headache. Cinnamon has powerful anti-inflammatory components that can help in reducing some of malaria’s most uncomfortable symptoms.
Because of its powerful Vitamin C nutrient, orange juice is a great way to treat malaria. It is also an immune booster that can help to arm your immune system with the necessary tools that it needs to combat the virus.
The nut has powerful ingredients that can help to break the fever and restore your body system to normal working conditions. It is one of the oldest, most natural remedies that humanity used to cure and survive malaria for hundreds of years. Once the fever associated with malaria breaks, that is an active step towards recovery.
Of course there is also the not-so natural remedy, which is a visit to the doctor, where you can get ample medical attention through medication.
If traveling to a malaria-risk country, consult your healthcare provider on proper malaria prevention methods, like antimalarial drugs. Travelers that become ill either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after they return to their home countries, should seek immediate medical attention and share their experiences with others. While it is impossible to completely avoid foreign insects when you are in a new country or strange territory, taking the necessary steps to protect yourself is important. Consult with your physician before embarking on any major trip.