Another Deadly Disease Is On The Rise

Costa Rica is currently contending with a serious Malaria outbreak.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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Costa Rica is battling a malaria outbreak on the country’s east coast. Health officials have been conducting door-to-door detection checks after 60 people tested positive for the deadly disease. According to Medical Express, 26 infections were located in Limon, with a further 32 found in Pococi. Although the illness can be fatal, no deaths have been reported yet.

Rodrigo Marin, the Director of Health Monitoring in the Central American country, said 75 percent of these malaria cases were discovered in the past two weeks. It’s unclear if the disease had been brought in from another country. The potentially fatal disease is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium that infects mosquitoes, which transmit the parasite to humans through their bites.

Malaria is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, Costa Rica, and other Latin American nations. According to the World Health Organization, there are several malaria parasite species. Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the greatest threat to human health.

Symptoms of malaria typically appear 10 to 15 days after the infective mosquito bite. Patients initially present with a mild fever, headache, and chills, which may be challenging to recognize as potentially life-threatening. Left untreated, the disease can cause seizures, brain damage, as well as breathing and organ failure. These conditions ultimately lead to death.

Malaria is preventable and curable but remains a major public health problem in many countries. Children under five are the most vulnerable group affected by the disease. In 2021, they accounted for almost 80% of all malaria-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. That same year, 17 countries and one territory in the Americas accounted for 0.2% of worldwide cases.

That figure included 600,000 malaria cases and 334 deaths, Medical Express reports. Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela accounted for 79 percent of the total in the Americas. The disease is diagnosed through laboratory tests that demonstrate the presence of the deadly parasite in the patient’s blood. A microscopic examination of the blood is then conducted.

During this test, a sample of blood is placed on a glass slide, prepared, and examined under a microscope. The specimen is stained to give the parasites a distinctive appearance. Once the malaria diagnosis is established, doctors examine a blood smear to determine the species and the parasite. Rapid diagnostic tests are also available to detect antigens in blood and provide faster results.

Prevention and early diagnosis are essential for reducing the impact of malaria. Using insect repellent, mosquito nets and wearing clothing with full-body coverage when traveling to an area where the disease is prominent is essential. Antimalarial drugs can also be taken, which are 90 percent effective in preventing the illness. But they should be used in combination with other preventive measures.

Early malaria diagnosis and treatment can reduce the severity of the disease and prevent deaths. Medical News Today says the best option for Plasmodium falciparum malaria is an artemisinin-based combination therapy. For travelers, malaria can be controlled by chemoprophylaxis. It suppresses the blood stage of malaria infections, thereby preventing infection.