All the information you will ever need on malaria in Nigeria and across Africa.
Malaria Symptoms; Routine and Dangerous
Malaria symptoms are common and often shared with other illnesses. Symptoms are what you experience that may be a pointer towards a particular disease. For malaria they include the following:
- Body ache
- Back pain
- Joint pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Belly pain
Malaria symptoms are complicated by the fact that you can have malaria and not display any of the above symptoms at all. Malaria is a shares symptoms with many other illnesses and can be mistaked for them. You should thus always go for a malaria test anytime you feel unwell.
Dangerous Malaria Symptoms to Watch for
Severe malaria is quite dangerous and kills many people yearly. The symptoms to watch out for include altered behavior or confusion, a really pale look or cold hands and feet. Yellowing of the eyes, reduced urine or a coke colored urine are also signs that should worry you. Fast, deep or labored breathing is another. These signs are all related to the complications of severe malaria. If you have any of these it’s important that you go see a doctor immediately. They will be able to manage your case much better than anywhere else. It’s important also to select a good clinic that has access to an intensive care unit (ICU) because it may be needed if any of these danger signs are observed. The good thing is that the vast majority of people don’t get severe malaria especially if they test and treat early. If you don’t have these danger signs but have regular malaria symptoms, avail of a rapid malaria test that saves you time and effort. Results are available within 15 minutes usually
A malaria test is required before you can be diagnosed with malaria. This is the current advice from the World Health Organization. A test, however, is not what many Nigerians seek when they have symptoms of malaria. Often when illness strikes, many people don’t consider going for one. They go straight to the pharmacy to request for an antimalarial drug.
Bypassing a malaria test is understandable. When you factor in a trip to the doctor that often consists of some waiting time, then a trip to the lab with some more waiting time, capped off with a pharmacy visit to buy drugs. This can take hours and cost a lot. Hence the reasonable desire to cut to the chase and go directly to the pharmacy.
Why Malaria Test?
This shortcut approach to healthcare when you’re unwell is not really advisable. Testing is important. It establishes the cause of the illness. While malaria is quite common, it is not the only cause of fevers or illnesses. Other infections caused by various viruses and bacteria may be the reason for an illness. Assuming malaria is the reason for you being sick without testing may mean you receive malaria treatment inappropriately. It also means you will be sick for a longer period as the main cause of your illness is left untreated.
Rapid Malaria Test
The usual way to test for malaria was to go to the lab and have your blood taken. This blood is then viewed under the microscope by the lab scientist who looks for the presence of malaria parasite in your blood. If it’s present, you are noted as having malaria. Often this takes a while to be done and you may have to return at a later time to receive the results. This is a long and unsatisfactory process. Hence the invention of a rapid malaria test. This test often goes by the acronym ‘RDT’. It stands for ‘rapid diagnostic test’. With an RDT, a result can be gotten swiftly without the need for a lab scientist or a microscope.
Malaria testing is important. Do not forgo it the next time you feel unwell. Order one now and have it done within 15 minutes at a pharmacy near you. Test positive and you get an antimalarial. Test negative and you get an immune system booster and a referral to a doctor for further input.
Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT)
Malaria rapid diagnostic test is a simple and fast test that can be done in front of you to check if you have malaria. It takes less than 15 minutes to conduct and requires only a drop of blood. Here’s how it works.
The person administering the test will wipe your finger clean.
He/she will prick your clean finger with a tiny needle that’s painless.
A drop of blood is squeezed out into a little tube.
This tube is used to transfer the drop of blood onto the test cassette.
The blood reacts with the chemicals in the cassette.
The cassette indicates if there’s malaria parasite in the blood usually under 15 minutes.
If positive you can go on to take an antimalarial drug. IF negative you can do further testing or speak to a doctor to find out the cause of your illness.
RDT is quite accurate and reliable to use. It’s been proven to be a useful substitute for traditional lab testing.
Watch a video of malaria rapid testing
Order a rapid malaria test now at a pharmacy near you if you feel unwell or think you may have malaria.
The 4 Types of Malaria
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite. It manifests in different ways and symptoms.
There are 4 different types of malaria. These types are classified based on the type of parasite that causes it.
The 4 types of Plasmodium parasite are:
Plasmodium falciparum is the type most common in Nigeria and is also the most deadly. To find out what type of malaria you have, a lab test has to be carried out. This is done after your blood is taken when you attend a lab. The lab runs some tests on your blood and is able to find out the type. Often times, this determination of type doesn’t matter as the same antimalarial drugs usually work for each type.
Thankfully with the advance of modern science, you don’t have to go to a lab to test for malaria. New rapid tests for malaria have been developed that can detect if you have the malaria parasite within 15 minutes. This is not widespread in availability yet but we are working hard to change that.
The types of malaria are not to be confused with complications of malaria which include:
- Severe brain infection
- Liver problems
- Anaemia – low blood count
- Kidney failure
- Fluids in the lungs
- Low blood sugar
- Acidic blood
To avoid the complications of malaria, it’s important that you test for malaria anytime you feel unwell or have a fever. Whenever you test positive for malaria, you should take treatment with original recommended ACT based drugs. (ACT is artemisinin combination therapy, the malaria therapy recommended by the World Health Organization)
Is Malaria Contagious?
Is malaria contagious? A question people often ask. Malaria is an infectious disease that is passed on from one human to another via a vector. This vector is the mosquito.
The mosquito often flies at nights and likes to suck human blood. In the process of sucking blood, it may come across a person infected with malaria. It then goes on to suck an uninfected person and in the process transmits the malaria parasite, Plasmodium.
In this sense, malaria is contagious. However, it can not be gotten by physical contact with an infected person. So you can freely interact, hold and kiss people with malaria. You may even sleep together. Be careful however that no mosquito is around as it will likely transmit it to you.
Preventing Malaria Transmission
Now that you know how malaria is transmitted, how can you prevent it? The key thing is to curtail its vector, the mosquito. Options include:
- Stopping it from breeding
- Killing already bred mosquitos
- Preventing mosquitos from biting
Other non-vector related things you can do include isolating people with malaria infection so as not to provide a source. This is part of the strategy the tropical areas in Austrailia used to defeat malaria transmission. They had a system where if you were diagnosed with malaria, you were quarantined until you overcame the illness. This tactic was coupled with other things too that accelerated the demise of malaria. So while some parts of Australia is tropical and has mosquitos, there is no malaria.
Malaria vaccines are currently being researched to help prevent malaria. None has been licensed yet.
Malaria Treatment – ACT (Artemisinin-based-combination-therapy)
Malaria treatment is often needed after the diagnosis of malaria. While your body can fight off the infection on its own, it’s not always successful. This is clear by the many people that die from malaria. Treatment is thus needed to kill the parasite and help you recover quicker. This treatment is even more important for children and pregnant women.
Traditionally many people would have taken Chrloroquine or drugs like it to treat malaria. Unfortunately this is no longer recommended because of resistance by the malaria parasite that is commonly found in Nigeria. We’ve used Chloroquine for too long that it doesn’t work anymore.
We’ve now had to look to traditional Chinese medicine where they were able to extract a strong anti malarial drug from a local plant known as qinghao su. This drug is known as Artemisinin. It’s now the currently recommended treatment for malaria. It’s however not to be used alone. This is to avoid the development of resistance that happened to Chloroquine to happen to it. It is recommended that you use Artemisinin combined with another antimalarial. Hence the term ‘ACT’ which stands for ‘Artemisinin based combination therapy’.
So when next you have malaria symptoms and test positive for malaria, ask for ACT which will be a combination of Artemisinin and another antimalarial. One that is favored for the combination is Lumefantrine. Make sure you always take the drug as directed and finish it. Not completing a course of treatment can increase the risk of developing severe malaria or drug resistance in the malaria parasite.
It is advisable when sick with malaria to drink plenty of water as you lose a lot of fluids while sick. Also get some rest and use paracetamol regularly for fevers.
Lonart, an example of a recommended ACT.
Order malaria treatment preceded by a test at a pharmacy near you today. You will get genuine antimalarial and reminders to take your drugs at the correct times to reduce the risk of resistance.
Malaria antibiotics are one form of treatment for malaria. The major treatments however are anti-parasite drugs that directly kill the parasite. Recommended anti-parasite drugs are called ACT, artemisinin based combination therapy. In some instances, these drugs may be poorly tolerated so alternatives such as antibiotics may be considered.
If this relates to you, it’s best to seek the opinion of a doctor as ACT remains the drug of choice and should work for most people. When reviewing antibiotics options, your doctor may consider drugs such as:
Co-trimoxazole (septrin) This is an antibiotic that has been shown to kill the malaria parasite.
Fluoroquinolones. This is another antibiotic that has shown some anti-malarial activity.
Tigecycline. A new class of antibiotics, also kills the malaria parasite.
Fusidic acid. An antibiotic usually used in staph infections, can also kill malaria parasites.
Most of these drugs are not used regularly. The usual treatment is ACT. Always contact your doctor if in doubt. If you think you have malaria and want a quick test and treatment, just click to order.