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What are the Best Methods of Malaria Control?

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  • Written By: Kathy Heydasch
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Malaria control involves preventive and reactive measures applied to three important parts of the malaria chain: the human host, the parasite causing the disease, and the carrier of the parasite. Although there are various drugs available that can treat malaria, it can still be a fatal disease. The parasites have become resistant to various drugs throughout the years, and advances are still being made in drug therapy and prevention. Arguably the most important aspect of malaria control is the widespread use of mosquito nets to prevent hosts from being bitten by carriers of the disease.

A human falls victim to malaria when he or she is exposed to the parasite plasmodium through a bite from a female mosquito. Because the parasite can lay dormant in a host for weeks or even years, patients may not even know they are affected until the side effects are obvious. Prophylactic drugs are typically used for short-term visitors to an area where the contraction of malaria is possible. A course of these malaria control drugs is usually started more than a week before the visitor is expected to arrive, and taken during the entire time of the stay as well as a week or more after the visitor has left. This treatment is especially important to prevent the parasite from being transported to an area where it does not currently exist.

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The parasite responsible for malaria is called plasmodium, and has virtually been eradicated in areas like North America and Europe, where malaria control tactics have been effective for quite some time. In order for plasmodium to thrive, there must be a high human population density combined with a high population of mosquitoes. Plasmodium has shown the ability to become immune to certain medicines throughout the years, so its drug resistance is variable and must be carefully monitored.

Malaria control at its most basic comes in the form of mosquito nets to cover beds and sitting areas. Although they are inexpensive and effective, their use is still not widespread enough to eliminate the parasite in some areas of the world. Part of this is due to the availability of the nets, and some foreign aid money assigned to malaria-prone areas is dedicated solely to the purchase and distribution of mosquito nets. Some of the problem is due to education: remote villages must be educated to the notion that mosquitoes spread malaria and that mosquito nets are vital to the eradication of the disease.

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