Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female mosquito of the species Anopheles.1,2 In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide.1,2 The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 627,000 in 2020.1 According to the World Malaria Report (WMR)- 2019 India represents 3% of the malaria burden, worldwide.3
Pathogenesis and the manner of disease development of Malaria are complex (Figure 1).4
Figure 1: Pathogenesis of Malaria
The 6 species of malarial parasites infecting humans are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale wallickeri, Plasmodium ovale curtisi, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium knowlesi. Moreover, each species undergoes 10 or more morphological states, replicates from single to 10,000+ cells, and differs in population from one to many more than 106 organisms.4,5
Signs and symptoms of Malaria
The first symptoms of malaria are nonspecific and mimic a flu-like syndrome. Although fever is a hallmark feature, clinical findings in malaria may vary in severity from mild headaches, malaise, myalgias, jaundice, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea to fatal complications leading to death.6-8 Enlarged liver, enlarged spleen, low blood sugar, and hemoglobin in the urine with kidney failure may occur. Malaria has several serious complications, among these is the development of respiratory distress. Possible etiology includes respiratory compensation of metabolic acidosis, noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, concomitant pneumonia, and severe anemia. Malaria can also lead to cerebral malaria and/or encephalopathy. Complications may also include spontaneous bleeding, coagulopathy, and shock.6-9 Pregnant women particularly with P. falciparum infection can have complications like stillbirths, infant mortality, miscarriage, and low birth weight. Thereby, diagnosis of Malaria in pregnancy using laboratory testing or rapid diagnostic tests is recommended before treating pregnant women showing signs and symptoms of illness.7,8 Although Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major concern, increasing evidence has recently emerged that Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium knowlesi can also be severe and even life threatening.6-8
Diagnostic tests for Malaria
To prevent the rapid progression of the complications, every malaria patient must be diagnosed timely and treated rapidly, and frequent observations are required to identify early signs of systemic complications.5-7 Owing to the non-specific nature of clinical manifestations of Malaria, prompt diagnosis is very crucial to prevent fatal and undesirable outcomes. Dr. Dangs Lab recommends their Fever Panels (Basic & Advance) to guide the physician by screening for the common causes of fever such as Malaria, Typhoid, Dengue and Urine infections. Dr. Dangs Lab’s - Fever Panel Advanced blood test has all the benefits of the Fever panel Basic, along with culture/sensitivity for urine, throat, and blood samples to check for bacterial growth and provide antibiotics that the infection would respond and be resistant to. Malaria is usually confirmed by the microscopic examination of blood films or by antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests (RDT).
Dr. Dangs Lab’s Malarial Profile Panel (PSMP/LDH Test) involves performing the blood smears and LDH, the gold standard test for Malaria detection and identification. These tests conducted by Dr. Dangs Lab detect Malarial antigens (proteins) in a sample of a patient’s blood within 24 hours (Table 1)
Malaria is both preventable and treatable. Early diagnosis, effective vector control measures, and rapid treatment of malaria reduce mortality and morbidity and contribute to reducing Malaria transmission.1-7
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces morbidity, prevents deaths, and contributes to reducing transmission. WHO recommends that all suspected cases of malaria be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing (through rapid diagnostic test or microscopy). Diagnostic testing enables health providers to swiftly distinguish between malarial and non-malarial fevers, facilitating appropriate treatment.
Publisher’s name- Dr. Dangs Lab
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute For a qualified medical opinion.