Every year, malaria kills approximately 660,000 people around the globe, according to the World Health Organization. Affecting almost half the world's population, this disease is often a daily concern for those living in 100 countries worldwide. Here in the United States, however, we are safe out of its reach.
But all of this changes when you decide to take that bucket list vacation to Brazil or Kenya. Suddenly, you are just as likely to contract malaria as anyone else living in affected regions. To help keep you safe, we compiled the need-to-know information about the disease and spoke to Dr. David Shlim who has served as medical director at the Jackson Hole Travel and Tropical Medicine Clinic since 1998 for his take on this disease and how to prevent it.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease that comes from parasites that spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Two related parasite species-Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax-are the cause of most illness and death from malaria.
The disease occurs in two stages, according to Shlim. In the first stage, the parasite stays in the liver. In the second stage, it moves out into the blood and causes symptoms.
What are the symptoms and when do they occur?
Syptoms typically begin within a few weeks of infection, however some parasites can stay dormant in your body for months. Watch for recurring attacks of moderate to severe shaking chills, high fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea and profuse sweating with a drop in body temperature. If you're living, traveling or have recently visited a high-risk region and spike a fever, visit your doctor immediately.
To learn at-risk countries and prevention methods, continue reading here.