Even on World Malaria Day, April 25, 2023, nearly half of the world’s population is still at risk of malaria, according to WHO.
World Malaria Day again draws attention to the dangerous infectious disease that still threatens nearly half the world’s population today. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the number of malaria cases worldwide in 2021 at around 247 million in 84 endemic countries.
Compared to the previous year, the number of cases had thus increased by about two million. The clear majority of patients were counted on the African continent. Malaria kills about 600,000 people a year, three-quarters of children under five.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease transmitted by parasites. It occurs mainly in tropical and subtropical climatic regions and thus predominantly in Africa, Asia, and South America, with Africa being the most affected, accounting for about 90% of cases. However, isolated malaria cases have also occurred in Spain and Greece in recent years.
Anopheles mosquitoes transmit the infectious disease malaria. They are usually nocturnal. Once they have bitten a person infected with malaria, they share the pathogen when biting another person. Infection with malaria is, therefore, highly dependent on mosquito abundance and climatic conditions. Transmission is most likely during and after the rainy season.
In affected regions, many people develop partial defenses against one or more of the four types of malaria. However, some populations are particularly at risk, including children.
Various treatments are available for sufferers, primarily based on the active ingredient artemisinin in combination with other agents. Prevention is the key to the fight against malaria. Insect sprays or treated mosquito nets are effective measures against transmission in risk areas. For travelers, there is the option of prophylactic medication or carrying a drug with you in case of need.
Research into a vaccine against malaria has been going on for years, and only now have the first successes been achieved: the vaccine RTS, S (also known under the product name “Mosquirix”) was developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and is the only vaccine to have made it through all phases of approval. It is the world’s first vaccine against a parasitic disease in humans. The vaccine is intended to prevent severe disease progression.
Imported cases in Austria
Malaria is not endemic in Austria, but imported infections from travelers occur every year. From 2020, 50 cases are known to Vienna’s Special Outpatient Clinic for Vaccination, Travel, and Tropical Medicine.
- source: heute.at/picture: Bild von Gerd Altmann auf Pixabay
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