City in grip of ‘in­vis­i­ble’ malaria

Thir­teen asymp­to­matic cases re­ported

Deccan Chronicle - - CITY - KANIZA GARARI | DC

Thir­teen cases of asymp­to­matic malaria were de­tected dur­ing health camps in Hy­der­abad re­cently. In these cases, the usual symp­toms of malaria, such as fever and chills, are not there, but the par­a­site is present in the body. Blood tests car­ried out in the health camps re­vealed the pres­ence of the par­a­site.

Of the 50 peo­ple who were tested, 13 proved pos­i­tive for malaria. Dr K Seshi Ki­ran, se­nior gen­eral physi­cian at Yashoda Hos­pi­tal, ex­plains that the symp­toms of fever and chills are miss­ing in cases of asymp­to­matic malaria be­cause the per­son is healthy and the im­mune sys­tem is strong in fight­ing the par­a­site.

Asymp­to­matic in­fec­tion is an im­por­tant ob­sta­cle in elim­i­nat­ing malaria. More re­search is re­quired to un­der­stand how fre­quently la­tent in­fec­tion can get con­verted to acute in­fec­tion. At present, an asymp­to­matic per­son is a po­ten­tial reser­voir for malaria. The par­a­site is in the blood­stream of the hu­man and when the mos­quito bites such a per­son and then goes and bites an­other per­son, the par­a­site is trans­ferred. If the im­mune sys­tem of that per­son is weak, a full­blown case of malaria will be pre­sented. Those who have asymp­to­matic malaria have re­cur­rent episodes of fever and chills, which sub­side after tak­ing the pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion.

Dr Hari Kis­han B, se­nior gen­eral physi­cian, says peo­ple who har­bour re­serves of this par­a­site will suf­fer from two to three episodes of fever in a span of six months.

“Since med­i­ca­tion is given, these peo­ple do not visit clin­ics and get tested for malaria,” he said.

The pres­ence of the par­a­site in the body leads to chronic anaemia, and ma­ter­nal and neona­tal mor­tal­ity in preg­nant women.

Dr Suneetha Narreddy, con­sul­tant for in­fec­tious dis­eases, strikes a note of cau­tion on treat­ment for this type of malaria: “Treat­ment of these reser­voirs of malaria in­fec­tions has tremen­dous im­pli­ca­tions. Risks in­clude ad­verse events of the drug cho­sen to treat them. There could also be in­creased pres­sure of drug re­sis­tance to ther­a­pies for acute clin­i­cal cases. But there are ben­e­fits, too, like de­creased mor­bid­ity and mor­tal­ity from chronic and acute malaria in­fec­tion. There is also the pos­si­bil­ity of elim­i­nat­ing the par­a­site com­pletely from the sys­tem.”

To tackle these asymp­to­matic cases it is very im­por­tant to have an ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis, and cre­ate a cli­mate of health-seek­ing be­hav­iour so peo­ple have con­fi­dence in re­port­ing to health­care cen­tres.

The gov­ern­ment is car­ry­ing out malaria tests in health camps as it has to elim­i­nate the par­a­site from the In­dian pop­u­lace by 2030.

To achieve this tar­get, gov­ern­ment has to tackle the cases of asymp­to­matic malaria, which pose a po­ten­tial threat.

AT PRESENT, an asymp­to­matic per­son is a po­ten­tial reser­voir for malaria.

THE PAR­A­SITE is in the blood­stream of the hu­man and when the mos­quito bites such a per­son and then goes and bites an­other per­son, the par­a­site is trans­ferred.

IF THE IM­MUNE sys­tem of that per­son is weak, a full-blown case of malaria will be pre­sented.

THOSE WHO HAVE asymp­to­matic malaria have re­cur­rent episodes of fever and chills.

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