What is Malaria?
Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. While was a common disease in Turkey, domestic malaria transmission is not observed after fruitful irrigated agriculture control efforts. However, abroad-origin cases continue.
A single-cell organism Plasmodium, also known as the malaria parasite, uses Anopheles mosquitos as hosts. When a plasmodium-carrying female mosquito bites a human, the eggs of the parasite pass into the blood. Here, the eggs travel to the liver via the circulatory system. The liver is the place where the parasite
develops and reproduces. At the end of this stage, the parasite bursts liver cells and travels to the circulatory system. Developing parasite enters the blood cells and spends the maturation phase here. The matured parasite bursts out blood cells and circulates freely in the blood, looking for new blood cells to infect. The eruption of blood cells by plasmodium causes seizures of febrile convulsions that recur for paced periods in the person.
Symptoms of malaria usually appear within 10-15 days after being bitten, but some parasites manifest symptoms after a longer period. Typical findings begin with headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain, it progresses with fever, chills, vomiting, sweating, chills, difficulty in breathing, blurred mind, and severe muscle contractions. Among all malaria pathogens, Plasmodium falciparum causes the most serious and deadly disease. The most serious clinical manifestation of P. falciparum infection, which has a latent period of up to 6 months, is coma (cerebral malaria) in children and multi-organ failure in adults. Unfortunately, in such severe cases of malaria, the patient may lose their life. However, full recovery is possible with treatment when in the early stages.
Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest malaria pathogen. The other plasmodium species posing a threat to humans are Plasmodium vivax (the widest spread), Plasmodium malaria, and Plasmodium ovale (milder disease course). Accurate identification of the malaria pathogen is vital, as the treatment depends on the type of parasite. Traditional diagnostic methods are examining the blood from the patient under a microscope or running an antibody test. However, both methods may give false negative results in the early stages of infection or when the parasite load is low.
Malaria is curable. Early diagnosis and treatment help the individual to gain their old health. In recent years, a modern method for precise species identification and even quantification, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), has been used. Not only can PCR distinguish plasmodium DNA in the blood, but it can also deduce its amount with superior reliability. In severe clinical situations such as multi-organ failure, it is necessary to analyze as many different pathogens as possible, with as few samples as possible. Thanks to the PCR method, this can be achieved.
Females of malaria-carrying anopheles flies are active from dark to light. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Health of Turkey, all new malaria cases identified since 2014 originate from abroad. However, plasmodium infections can still be seen in Turkey due to factors such as the presence of malaria carrier anopheles flies, climate change, and increased human mobility. The individuals can protect themselves from infections in two ways; taking physical precautions to avoid being bitten, or using anti-malarial medication recommended by a physician.
Physical measures to prevent plasmodium infections are:
- Using a mosquito net to prevent mosquitoes from biting while sleeping
- Using licensed and approved fly repellents at dusk
- Using mosquito nets on windows and doors
- Preferring outfits that cover the body, such as trousers and long-sleeved clothing.
In addition, the Ministry of Health of Turkey emphasizes that people who show symptoms such as headache, weakness, and muscle and joint pain after traveling from other countries should apply to health institutions even if they have used preventive drugs.
To minimize malaria infections, individuals can take precautions against puddles, where flies breed and thrive. More than 200 species of the plasmodium parasite cause malaria in animals and threaten wildlife. To protect both people and animals, do not leave open buckets, cans, or kiddy pools with water, and stay away from ornamental
pools that do not have a healthy filtering system.
Anatolia Geneworks utilized its in-house R&D and manufacturing experience and has developed kits for the diagnosis, typing, and quantification of parasites in the blood. The Bosphore Malaria Detection Kit detects the presence of 4 human malaria-causing pathogens (P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malaria, and P. ovale). Bosphore Malaria Genotyping Kit v1 typifies parasites with high precision. The Bosphore Malaria Quantitative Kit v1 measures the amount of the detected species with high accuracy. Thus, the physician can adjust the treatment, terminate it, or apply a different cure when deemed necessary.