Malaria ‘poses deadly risks worldwide’
Doha, March 28, 2012
Malaria remains one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world and recent estimates suggest that many more people are dying of the disease each year than previously believed, said an expert.
The disease causes 1.24 million deaths globally including more than 700,000 deaths in children younger than the age of five years, according to Professor Linnie Golightly, associate professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) in New York.
Many of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
These were just some of the facts presented by Professor Golightly who was speaking at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar’s monthly Medicine and U community health forum.
Although Africa bears the brunt of the disease, malaria is present in the Middle East and occurs in the Arabian Peninsula. The P. falciparum parasite, which causes the most deadly form of the disease, is endemic in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
“This is a particularly dangerous infectious disease and is a medical emergency,” said Professor Golightly, who also has a joint appointment in WCMC’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
“The only symptom of malaria may be fever, and it can kill in less than 24 hours,” she said. “Physicians therefore have to be vigilant in considering malaria in anyone who has visited an endemic area with complaints of fever. There are added risks for a pregnant woman and her unborn child. The diagnosis of malaria can be made by a simple blood test.”
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and is transmitted to humans when an infected insect bites a person and injects the malaria parasites into the blood. Prevention and treatment is increasingly complex due to the emergence of drug resistant parasites in most parts of the world where the disease occurs.
The use of insecticide treated bed nets, however, has proven an effective means of preventing the disease in endemic areas. – TradeArabia News Service