Malaria – Sri Lanka

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6 patients have been detected malaria in Sri Lanka. All cases were reported to arrive from African countries.

Health authorities have encouraged people who plan to travel to African countries should be taken malaria prophylaxis medicine before departing.

Photo: Malaria parasite (blue) attaching to a red blood cell

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, caused by a parasite (Plasmodium) that enters the red blood cells. The parasites travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce.

The signs and symptoms of malaria typically begin 8 to 25 days following an infected mosquito bite. The disease starts with symptoms that resemble flu with recurring fevers every 36 to 48 hours.

Malaria has several serious complications and seeking medical treatment is important if you suspect having malaria.

The disease is widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions that exist in a broad band around the equator.

The risk of catching the disease can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites through the use of mosquito nets and insect repellents or with mosquito-control measures such as spraying insecticides and draining standing water.

While malaria can easily be treated, the parasites are increasingly developing drug resistance.

Malaria has been in existence for 50 000 to 100 000 years. In Saqqara Egypt a burial site 2100 BC was found a whole family infected and probably killed by malaria. Malaria was once common in most of Europe and North America. It may have contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire and then known as the Roman Fever and marsh fever. The term malaria originates from Medieval Italian: mala aria, meaning "bad air".

In 1880 the parasite was identified in red blood cells by a French army doctor who worked in Algeria. This was the first time a parasite was identified as causing a disease. The first effective treatment for malaria came from the bark of cinchona tree, which contains quinine. Jesuit monks introduced the treatment to Europe around 1640.

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