City in grip of ‘invisible’ malaria
Thirteen asymptomatic cases reported
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.