If you’ve been following us on facebook, you know that the buzz word of the season for us is
M A L A R I A.
I’m pretty fed up announcing that yet another member of our household has malaria, so I can only imagine that our friendly followers are also waiting for the day when we finally add some variety to our news feed.
When we were at the hospital in Lusaka, some of the nurses were sharing their malaria experiences with us. One of them was saying that, never really having left Lusaka, she has only had malaria a few times in her life. “It was horrible, though,” she recounted. Another shared with us that, also having grown up in Lusaka, she never really had malaria until she was posted to a mission hospital in Mbereshi which is just north of us. “Luapula Province, let me tell you, that place is nothing BUT malaria. I was sick every month the whole time I was there.” We know that, sister. We felt her pain and she likewise.
It was impressed upon us that even amongst Zambians, those who live in the capital have little understanding of the struggle against malaria that exists in the rural areas. Many are ignorant of the signs and symptoms or of the course of treatment. This got us wondering how much our American friends know about the disease. To find out, I’ve put together a handy little quiz. Test yourself by answering the questions below and discover your own Malaria IQ.
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR MALARIA?
Answer the following questions:
1. All mosquitoes carry malaria. (T/F)
2. Similar to the flu, most malaria will clear itself up over over time. (T/F)
3. Symptoms of malaria are more dramatic in pregnant women. (T/F)
4. Malaria is the second largest killer of children in Africa, after HIV/AIDS. (T/F)
5. The best way to prevent malaria is to sleep under a mosquito net. (T/F)
6. Symptoms of malaria appear almost immediately after being bitten by an infected mosquito. (T/F)
7. Malaria is a bacterial infection. (T/F)
8. Malaria is highly contagious amongst infected people. (T/F)
9. List three telltale signs of Malaria.
10. Once treated for malaria, a person can be confident that the disease will not recur. (T/F)
HOW’D YOU DO? CHECK YOUR ANSWERS BELOW!
1. All mosquitoes carry malaria. (T/F) – false.
Only the female Anopheles mosquitos carry malaria. This particular kind of mosquito is only active in the evening, and does not make the familiar buzzing sound.
2. Similar to the flu, most malaria will clear itself up over time. (T/F) – false.
If left untreated, the parasites in the body will continue to reproduce, leading kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion coma and death.
3. Symptoms of malaria are more dramatic in pregnant women. (T/F) – false.
Malaria in pregnancy is often asymptomatic due to the fact that the parasites concentrate in the placenta instead of the mother’s blood stream. Malaria can increase risk for serious pregnancy problems including prematurity, miscarriage and stillbirth.
4. Malaria is the second largest killer of children in Africa, after HIV/AIDS. (T/F) – false.
Malaria is THE SINGLE LARGEST KILLER of children in Africa.
5. The best way to prevent malaria is to sleep under a mosquito net. (T/F) – false.
The best way to prevent malaria is to not get bit. Period. (We’ve woken up with mosquitoes inside our net, and that always sucks.)
6. Symptoms of malaria appear almost immediately after being bitten by an infected mosquito. – false.
Malaria symptoms begin to present usually 10 days to 4 weeks after infection though a person may feel ill as early as 7 days or as late as 1 year later.
7. Malaria is a bacterial infection. (T/F) – false.
Malaria is a parasitic disease.
8. Malaria is highly contagious amongst infected people. (T/F) – false.
Malaria does not pass from person to person, only from mosquito to person. However, mosquitoes acquire the malaria parasites after having a blood meal from an infected person. During the infected mosquito’s next meal, the parasites acquired from the infected person will be deposited into the healthy person, causing him or her to fall ill.
9. List three telltale signs of Malaria.
Fever, sweats, chills, headache, malaise, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. Any three of these combined (if the person is in a malaria endemic area) are good indicators of malaria.
10. Once treated for malaria, a person can be confident that the disease will not recur. – false.
Two kinds of malaria (P. vivax and P. ovale) can occur again (relapsing malaria). Some parasites can remain dormant in the liver for several months up to 4 years after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, eventually coming out of hibernation and invading red blood cells again.
So??? Are you a malaria expert now? We know that many of the people who read this blog and follow us on facebook care about us and want to pray for the things that concern us the most. I hope that knowing a little bit more about malaria will help you pray more specifically the next time we announce that someone is sick. (which hopefully won’t be any time soon…)
The life cycle of the malaria parasite is such that the illness advances very rapidly. We were recently talking with a friend who is a missionary pilot who commented that he’s seen many missionaries feel ill one day, get really, really sick the next day, and then the day after, they are dead. This is why when someone in our house tests positive for malaria, we immediately seek treatment and send out the SOS signal to garner prayer support. Malaria does not mess around, and neither do we. Some of you may remember that when we were first married, Jeremy was severely ill with malaria to the extent that it had spread to his brain. Some months later, we were recounting the episode to a research associate from the CDC and her assessment was, “I have no idea why he didn’t die. Given what you are telling me, he absolutely should not be here right now.” THAT, friends, is the power of prayer.
Thank you again to everyone who has stood by us in this particularly trying season of illness. We remain committed to praising God in the storm, and thank him for his sustaining grace.