Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Malaria in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has received a bleak prognosis for 2009 regarding malaria and cholera cases. Cholera continues to surge at epidemic levels, high numbers of malaria cases are also expected. "Malaria may be worse in Zimbabwe in 2009" than it has been in previous years. "That's because efforts to control cholera may be diverting attention away from programs to prevent malaria. The warning comes from the Rollback Malaria Campaign" (DeCapua).

"It's not just the rainy season that's helping to spread" the diseases, "but also a weakened healthcare system and poor water and sanitation". The Rollback Malaria Campaign adds that "there's been much less indoor residual spraying against mosquitoes", "and current heavy rains will help increase the mosquito population." Treatment "kits to help manage severe malaria cases are not reaching those in need due to distribution problems and that there's a shortage of healthcare workers due to Zimbabwe's economic crisis" (DeCapua).

According to recent statistics, fewer than 7% of young children sleep under any kind of mosquito net. Since mosquitoes are most active at night, the use of a net is paramount in avoiding bites from the mosquitoes that may carry malaria.
For more statistics please visit the Zimbabwe country profile.

Bureaucratic bottlenecks have limited the program's effectiveness in Zimbabwe, but other challenges are even more difficult to overcome. "Problems with flow of global fund within country resulted the loss of part of funding" and there is a constant shortage of personnel (RBM Campaign).

However, there is good news for Zimbabwe. Malaria-related deaths fell between 2001 and 2007 largely because of malaria treatment programs.

Chart of Malaria Deaths 2001-2007 provided by the RBM Campaign The number of deaths is expected to rise in 2009 due to the projected increase in numbers of cases.

[Photo provided by the RBM Campaign]

Currently, "malaria is found in all areas of Zimbabwe except the city of Harare" (Uyaphi). According to the MD Travel Health Website, "Prophylaxis with Lariam, Malarone, or doxycycline" Malaria treatment "is recommended for all areas, except the cities of Harare and Bulawayo".

Malaria prevention in Zimbabwe is dependent of funds raised outside of the country. If you would like to donate to the RBM Campaign, please visit their donation page.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Garlic as a Mosquito Repellent

Malaria, a blood-born parasite carried by mosquitoes, is a serious threat to tropical populations. Very little can be done by many rural villagers to prevent malaria, except for the use of mosquito repellents. As it turns out, garlic is a very good mosquito repellent used in Mexico, India, and other places under the threat of malaria.

"Garlic, taken internally or on the skin, is a fairly effective mosquito repellent" (Franz 218). "Many studies have been done on this subject. It has never been scientifically shown that eating garlic will repel mosquitoes. Spraying garlic on foliage does keep mosquitoes from the sprayed area however" (Mosquito). "For an unforgettable lotion, mix a handful of crushed garlic in half a cup of oil...Let this soak for a week to 10 days and then strain. Add several drops of penny-royal oil...crushed eucalyptus leaves...and parsley to reduce the garlic odor" (Franz 218).

"A mosquito's sense of smell is about 10,000 times better than yours and they are able to locate humans because they detect the carbon dioxide given off by us" (Mosquito). Garlic repellents emit a strong odor that discourage the mosquito from biting. Furthermore, "since mosquitoes are soft-bodied insects the garlic juice can be very toxic to them in increased concentrations". However, it requires "a very powerful variety which is much more potent than the garlic found in grocery stores (in fact, the lab people refer to it as "super garlic"). Garlic has a natural sulfur which repels insects, including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas" (Garlic).

Further research may develop a way to effectively produce a garlic that naturally repels and terminates mosquitoes in areas of the world where malaria proliferates.

Franz, Carl, Lorena Havens & Steve Rogers. The People's Guide to Mexico.

Garlic Mosquito Barrier. http://www.dirtworks.net/Mosquito-Barrier.html. 26 June 2009.

Mosquito Barrier: Facts and Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.mosquitobarrier.com/facts.html. 26 June 2009.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Advances Against Malaria | Reduction of Hospitalized Cases in Cambodia

Cambodian news sources are reporting a "50 percent drop in total malaria cases reported by public facilities between 2003 and last year, with officials crediting the success to village-based treatment" (Phnom).

"In 2008, 132,620 malaria patients were treated by village-based malaria volunteers, which has remarkably reduced the malaria death rate," according to the doctor of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

LEAKHANA, KHUON AND CHRISTOPHER SHAY. The Phnom Penh Post. "Malaria cases at hospitals...". 24 June 2009.

Advances Against Malaria | Combination Treatment

New studies conducted with children in Burkino Faso have shown that "in combination with newer malaria drugs, methylene blue prevents the malaria pathogen in infected persons from being re-ingested by mosquitoes and then transmitted to others and is thus twice as effective as the standard therapy" (University).

Methylene blue is one of the oldest synthetic treatments of malaria. In 1891, Paul Ehrlich identified its success at treating the disease (Schirmer). The chemical fell out of favor because of its cosmetic side-effects: whites of the eyes acquire a blue tint (image) and urine turns green.

Methylene blue is relatively cheap to produce and may see a resurgence in use since "combination therapies are twice as effective against gametocytes as the standard therapy" (University).

Schirmer H, Coulibaly B, Stich A, et al. (2003). "Methylene blue as an antimalarial agent--past and future". Redox Rep 8: 272–276. doi:10.1179/135100003225002899

University Hospital Heidelberg. "Spread Of Malaria Parasites Curbed With Combination Of Methylene Blue And New Malaria Drugs." ScienceDaily 26 May 2009. 24 June 2009

Malaria Symptoms

Malaria "can lead to impaired function of the brain or spinal cord, seizures, or loss of consciousness." Infection with certain parasites cause severe symptoms and can be fatal.
    Common symptoms of malaria:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of malaria often cycle or fluctuate. "The cyclic pattern of malaria symptoms is due to the life cycle of malaria parasites as they develop, reproduce, and are released from the red blood cells and liver cells in the human body. This cycle of symptoms is also one of the major indicators that you are infected with malaria."

Malaria has a variable incubation time (the period of time between initial infection and the illness). Symptoms can appear as early as 7 days after infection. "Occasionally, the time between exposure and signs of illness may be as long as 8 to 10 months".

WebMD. "Malaria." Retrieved on 24 June 2009.

Malaria Statistics

Sobering statistics:
  • 300-500 million malaria infections each year
  • More than 1 million deaths each year related to malaria
  • Nearly 40% of the world's population lives in affected regions.
  • Malaria causes 1 in 5 of all childhood deaths in Africa
  • African children have between 1.6 and 5.4 episodes of malarial fever each year.

Malaria Cases
2006 Estimates

Data provided by Globalhealthfacts.org

Global Health Facts. "Malaria Cases". Retreived 24 June 2009.

Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI). "Diseases: Malaria". Retreatived 24 June 2009.

Introduction to Malaria

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die. Each year 350-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, and over one million people die, most of them young children in Africa south of the Sahara. (Source: Centers for Disease Control. Malaria)