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Anemia due to Malaria

Malaria remains an enormous problem in public health around the world. It is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes.

About 3.2 billion people, almost half of the world’s population, are at risk of malaria. Young children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the disease when they become infected. Malaria is preventable and curable, and increased efforts are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places. Malaria is an acute febrile illness. Symptoms appear 7 days or more after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms; fever, headache, chills and vomiting may be mild. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death. Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria.

Malaria, how is it related to Anemia?

The malaria parasites, entering the blood after an infective mosquito bite, infect red blood cells. At the end of that infection cycle, red blood cell ruptures. This process lowers the amount of red blood cells and can in a severe stage cause severe anemia.

Malaria, how is it treated? 

Malaria is an entirely preventable and treatable disease. The primary objective of treatment is to ensure a rapid and complete elimination of the Plasmodium parasite from the patient’s blood in order to prevent progression of uncomplicated malaria to severe disease or death, and to chronic infection that leads to malaria-related anemia.

Anemia due to Malaria

HemoCue in relation to Malaria

Patients with suspected malaria should have parasitological confirmation of diagnosis with either microscopy or rapid diagnostic test (RDT) before antimalarial treatment is started. Hemoglobin testing in parallel with i.e. a RDT for malaria would show a broader view of the Malaria status than the “yes you have malaria” a RDT would yield. This since you can then see if the person also is affected with anemia. 

Source: WHO Factsheet

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