Mastering Malaria: Understanding The Attacker

4 mn read

A Global Parasite Concern

The war on malaria is one of the oldest battles humankind has been fighting against. It remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases. Moreover, it is one of the top child-killer diseases in the world. According to UNICEF, this unforgiving illness takes away the life of a child, every 30 seconds. This means that  Malaria kills 3,000 children every day. Many youngsters that contract Malaria end up suffering from life-long consequences. The symptoms of this disease have a great impact on the mental and physical health of an individual. (WHO, 2018)


 When Malaria attacks the body of a child, it leaves with a number of defects. These impairments keep thousands of children away from schools – depriving them of a normal and healthy childhood. According to statistics, 90% of the malaria cases that lead to death emerge in sub-Saharan Africa. Regardless, nearly half of the world is at risk of catching this lethal disease. In 2017 alone, the cases of Malaria skyrocketed and reached a count of 219 million. The target of this vicious parasite are mostly children and pregnant women across 90 countries in the world.


Apart from keeping children and grown adults from prospering and leading a normal life, this progressive disease also takes a toll on the business and economy of the countries. The estimated funding for the control and elimination of Malaria is approximately $3.1 billion USD. Along with the contribution of endemic countries, which is a total of $900 million USD that represent 28% of the entire funding, many governments have suffered a great loss at the hands of Malaria.  (WHO, 2018)


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A Plethora of Challenges

The parasite that is known to cause Malaria in human beings is Plasmodium Falciparum. The insect responsible for the transmission of the parasite is the mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. When a mosquito digest blood meals from a host, what follows is a sequence of transcriptional changes. Almost 50% of the gene’s change expression takes place in a mosquito during the transcriptional alterations. You will find many documents describing the regulation of transcription throughout the process. However, post-transcriptional regulation and their impact on the physiology of mosquitoes is still under-study. 


According to the expert malariologist in the industry, miRNA is a sequence of approximately 22 nucleotides that contribute a significant role in the regulation of gene expression. With a mechanical approach, the miRNA’s trigger the action of transcription with the degradation process of the target sequence. Another way of initiating the same process is by limiting or inhibiting the translation of the genes.

miRNA’s have a myriad of functions when it comes to genes. Some of them are:

          mRNA regulation.

          Development switches.

          Tissue homeostasis.


The study of miRNA and its role in the cause and spread of Malaria gives a clear insight into mosquito physiology. However, the abundance of miRNA in the varying species of mosquito is greatly understudied.  (Attardo, 2105)


The Chemical Manifestations of Malaria

The most seen and recorded symptom of Malaria is a fever. Other than that, the characteristic signs of Malarial infection are chills, myalgias, headache, vomiting, stomach ache, nausea, diarrhoea, and rarely cough.  The progression of the disease is followed by the onset of the classic malaria paroxysm with extensive episodes of severe sickness and brief symptom-free intervals. There are three successive stages during malaria paroxysm.

1)      The first stage: In this stage, the patient suffers from intense shivers and a feeling of cold for about fifteen to sixty minutes.

2)      The second stage: This stage is characterised by a two to the six-hour hot stage. The patient develops a high-grade fever, sometimes reaching 41℃. Other symptoms are nausea, flushed/dry skin, vomiting, and painful headaches.

3)      The third stage: The last stage is known as the sweating stage, in which the fever rapidly drops down, and the patient profusely sweats for about two to four hours.


In all different types of malaria, the febrile response varies, but the cause is similar – the rupture of mature schizonts. The most common types of Malaria are P vivax, P ovale, P molariae, and P falciparum.  In P vivax and P ovale, a brood of the fever causing cells – schizonts mature and rupture after every 48 hours. Hence, the fever is tertian in this malarial form. In P molariae, schizonts rupture after a time range of 72 hours, so the patients develop a fever every 72 hours. However, if one contracts falciparum malaria, the trend of developing fever is irregular and shows almost zero periodicity.  These different patterns of fever in Malaria are not seen in the early stages of the illness. Therefore, it is hard to rule out or pinpoint the symptoms of this deadly disease in its initial stages. 


If the diagnosis of malaria is delayed for a significant time, especially when the patient is suffering from P falciparum infection, there might be fatal complications. The two most fatal and common fatal complications are acute anaemia and cerebral malaria. Both can drastically deteriorate the health of the patient and cause death. Cerebral malaria is defined as one of the critical stages where the individual suffers from severe mental anxiety and may end up with long-lasting mental problems. In acute anaemia, there is severe loss of red blood cells.  Other symptoms that signify that the infection is severely progressing in the body are:

          Prolonged hyperthermia.


          Pulmonary, hepatic, renal, and cardiac dysfunction.

          Lactic acidosis.


          Severe hypoglycemia.



          Spontaneous bleeding.  (Crutcher, 1982)


How to Protect Yourself from Malaria


1)    Protective Clothing

As the sun sets, cover yourself with long-sleeved shirts and pants. The more you cover your skin from mosquito bites, the less are your chances of contracting the disease. Moreover, wearing light colours, like beige, can also help you in this matter, as mosquitoes only get attracted to dark clothing. 


2)    Mosquito repellant

You can carry mosquito repellants in your bags and pockets. They come in the form of lotions, sprays, and towelettes. Apply it where your skin is exposed when you are outdoors. The chemical composition of mosquito repellants helps to keep them at bay. 


Lastly, in this battle, the key to protecting yourself against this deadly attacker is to stay aware, vigilant, and educated about mosquitoes, and the potential damage they can cause. (IAMAT, 2015)



Attardo, G. M. (2105). Nutritional regulation of vitellogenesis in mosquitoes: implications for anautogeny. Insect BiochemMolBiol ., 35(7), 661-75.

Crutcher, J. M. (1982). Medical Microbiology. Galveston. malaria paroxysm comprises three,headache nausea and vomiting.

IAMAT. (2015). How to Protect Yourself Against Malaria. IAMAT. Protect Your self Against Malaria 2015

WHO. (2018). Malaria. WHO.

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