Do You Really Have Malaria?

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There's not a month that goes by without me coming across a post here from a fellow Nigerian about how they fell sick. The common culprit is usually malaria sometimes accompanied by typhoid. We are one of the major sufferers of the malaria parasite worldwide with about 76% of the population living in high transmission areas and 24% in low transmission areas. It's not uncommon to have at least one person treating malaria in a household at least once in three months.

During the time I worked in a laboratory during my undergraduate days, we carried out malaria and typhoid tests every day in numbers and there were mostly positive results. Getting a malaria diagnosis from a doctor is regular for some people like me for example. I dislike going to the doctor when I get malaria-like symptoms because it's always going to be a malaria diagnosis.

Some people are so used to the symptoms that they don't bother seeing a doctor and they go-ahead to take malaria medicine. I'm stubborn when it comes to taking malaria medicine because it smells so bad and it bothers me how frequently I treat malaria. Do you have malaria every single time you get a malaria diagnosis or do you get misdiagnosed? Should you be taking malaria medicine that often?

I remember asking my boss one day why almost every blood test we ran had the malaria parasite and I got a bit of a vague explanation of how as Nigerians born and living here, we all have a level of malaria parasite in our system so the test result is always going to be positive. That made a lot of sense because I'd randomly run a test on myself when I was free from symptoms and still see the parasites.

Partial Immunity

Seeing that most people carry the Plasmodium falciparum parasite and go about their day without showing any form of symptoms, it means they have some form of immunity against the parasite. This is known as partial immunity or acquired immunity to malaria.

This paper is a study on acquired immunity to malaria and it explains how adults living in malaria holoendemic areas have a natural immunity to Plasmodium falciparum but children on the other hand do not have this immunity, the reason why there is a high rate of infant mortality due to malaria.

If you further study the paper, you'd see that it's explaining that our bodies have grown to fight against the parasite naturally. This essentially means we don't need to take medicine every time as our bodies do the work for us.

It's only logical to see that it's not always a case of malaria when one has malaria presenting symptoms because the parasite is almost always there anyway. The symptoms might as well be that of other illnesses and this would mean that there is an abuse of malaria medicine amongst many. As with other drugs, abusing anti-malarials might eventually lead to drug resistance which would make the drug ineffective when the body actually needs it.

It's often advised to visit a doctor for proper diagnosis but what worries me is getting prescribed malaria medicine even before a test is conducted. It feels like most doctors are in a rush and don't properly look into the history of the patients because why would someone treat malaria every month even after taking preventive measures.

Thankfully, there are many doctors here and it would be highly appreciated if they throw more light on the issue of recurrent malaria.

Thanks for reading!

cc - @ebingo

References

https://www.severemalaria.org/countries/nigeria

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2620631/

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/drug-abuse-7128

Discord - wolfofnostreet#4939

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My own problem with malaria is the mosquitoes that carries it, can they not be completely eradicated? Because malaria has been Africa’s problem for too long and its hightime something is done about it instead of us to just settled and be ok with it🥺🥺

These mosquitoes are Nigerian citizens apparently

Hahaha.. Really 😊.. Our fellow Nigerians

Interesting article.

I have my fair share of malaria too. But I do seldom get malaria at one point. It was insane then. Cos when I was in school, everybody had a mosquito net but I'm claustrophobic and sweat a ton so I don't use a net but I almost never get malaria.

But all of a sudden recently, I've had malaria attack more than 4 times in a span of 5 months. It baffles me sometimes.

It really is baffling having to treat malaria back to back.

Fell sick twice. Malaria always present. This explains a lot. I was telling my cousin how you're not Nigerian if you haven't treated Malaria. Hehe! Uncertified Certificate.

True! You can't live in Nigeria and not get malaria.

Interesting! I didn't know we could get immunity to malaria. Thanks for sharing this.

One should be fine as long as there level of the parasite in the blood is not significant. The problem starts when the parasites population suddenly increases beyond a threshold level that begins to elicit symptoms.

The good new is that malaria vaccine is now a thing.

I read about the vaccine. Looking forward to it being used here.

Well, I am one of those who recently had malaria tabs. My dosage finished yesterday, I still have a few of the typhoid tablets left. That reminds me I have to go take my pills... Hehehehe.

Well since you say we are a bit immune to the parasites, i guess, we get it wrong Everytime we take malaria drugs when we are down with a fever. We ought to see the doctor and get tested first so we don't abuse drugs.

Sorry about your health, hope you feel better now?

Everytime we take malaria drugs when we are down with a fever. We ought to see the doctor and get tested first so we don't abuse drugs.

Some people don't even know that not all fevers are malaria fevers. They just go ahead to treat malaria.

Sorry about your health, hope you feel better now?

Yes, I am okay dear.... Thanks for caring.

Some people don't even know that not all fevers are malaria fevers. They just go ahead to treat malaria.

I am as guilty as charged 🥺

I am as guilty as charged 🥺

Sometimes the body just needs hot tea and it's own magic

Gosh, next time, I'll pay attention to that. Thanks

It's safe to treat malaria even when you haven't been tested. As you said, majority of people in Nigeria have the malaria parasite in their blood almost all the time whether symptomatic or not.
When anyone who lives in malaria endemic region presents with any sickness, it's safe to treat malaria alongside whatever it is that is wrong with the person because other sickness or even stress reduces ones immunity which allow the already present malaria to further proliferate and cause more damage.
Most often than not, getting a test result in our environment could be a challenge, then we can say it's safe to commence antimalarial to avoid the individual coming down with malaria complications like;

  1. Cerebral malaria which can result in coma.
  2. Febrile convulsion
  3. Acute Kidney injury
  4. Hypoglycemic coma
  5. Anaemia and anaemic heart Failure
  6. Jaundice or Hyperbilirubinemia
  7. Hyperparasitaemia
  8. Prostration (complete loss of strength)
    The list goes on and on. Complications are more common among children especially under-5 and pregnant women, however they can occur in a normal adult mostly when there is a delay in treatment.

It's therefore safe to commence antimalarial early when you have the symptoms. As a matter of fact any foreigner coming to Nigeria should take prophylaxis against malaria because they lack the partial immunity against malaria just like in children, risk of complication is high.

I believe this answers your question.
Thank you.

Yes, I know about foreigners taking prophylaxis.

You've answered my question partially 😁

How about the issue of treating malaria almost every month? Isn't that too much drug use? Or there's no side effects from overuse with antimalarials?

Actually, that's kind of too much. That's why it good to always see a doctor. Some persons even with the slightest headache that might be due to stress will take antimalarial. If you treat malaria last month then you shouldn't commence another course of antimalarial without a test. If malaria is resistant oral medication will most likely not be effective, then there will be need for admission and intravenous medication.

Awesome. Thank you very much for your answers. You really cleared the air.

You are welcome @wolfofnostreet

As for the side effects, it's usually written on the pamphlet, they can occur but are rare.

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