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Kenya: positive results after identification of the microbe that can curtail transmission of Malaria

A recent discovery of a microbe that assists in blocking the transmission of malaria parasites may reduce the chances of infections. The research was carried along the shores of a freshwater lake located in Western Kenya, Lake Victoria, that has been a recognized breeding site. Findings may boost the economic activities which were earlier hindered by the dreaded disease.

Researchers from the United Kingdom led by Dr Jeremy Herren and Kenyan researchers under the ICPE umbrella said the process entails passing the microbe between adults and as well to the offspring as it may stop the disease. The microbe, when introduced, inflicts high levels of impairment on plasmodium falciparum.

Most cases of malaria are caused by the mosquito-borne parasites Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax. This parasite begins its life cycle when an infected mosquito transmits sporozoites into a person while taking a blood meal. Image credit iStock, nopparit

Caused by a parasite called plasmodium falciparum and aided by female anopheles mosquitoes, malaria is a life-threatening disease and has led to deaths and economic woes. Africa and other tropical regions including the subtropics have malaria knocking their doors. The said conditions are favourable hence considered to be the breeding grounds.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) and other donors are pooling funds and investing in the healthcare sector to fight the menace, vaccines until now have proved futile at times. Researchers employ their research along African rivers, dumps, lakes, and plains with stagnant waters.

Malaria disease attacks irrespective of gender. According to WHO, children and pregnant ladies are amongst those affected worst. While children may lose their lives, malaria in pregnant ladies may result in underweight, premature, and frail babies. Those travelling to malaria-affected countries are advised to seek health advice on their immunity as the infection could be fatal as in case the immunity is not that strong.

A little patient recovered with Malaria symptoms. Image credit John Easton, University of Chicago Hospitals

Only female mosquitoes cause malaria as they suck human blood while males survive on plant juices. Females feed on human and animal blood simultaneously transmitting the disease. Human blood is stocked with proteins that favour egg-laying processes. Females have adaptive features for sucking blood from humans and animals. They produce anaesthetic chemicals during sucking to prevent one from feeling the pain, the oral opening known as proboscis is slender, fairly long, and sharp to reach the blood vessels. After the bite, one may feel itchy and unease on the skin, scrubbing the affected part may result in a temporary swelling.

Malaria symptoms include severe headache, high fever, muscular weakness, cough, and vomiting while long term illness may lead to deafness and eventual death. WHO recommends immediate medical attention to avoid the loss of life. There has been active participation by the local governments and international organizations to control the disease for years now.

Prevention is better than cure, according to researchers. Prevention is majorly based on practical aspects, sleeping under mosquito nets. Other blanket methods include getting rid of breeding grounds near houses like covering water tanks, draining stagnant water, clearing tall grasses, and biological measures approved to manage population by introduction of a predator.

Image credit National Geographic


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