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Malaria

What is Malaria? Why do you need to be concerned about Malaria? Why is Malaria spreading?

Among my biggest concerns is disease, specifically malaria. I contracted malaria a few times during my travels, but the last time I nearly perished from a resistant strain I caught in Irian Jaya. For two and half years, I had re-occurrences every three months. Those painful attacks and the terrible side effects from Larium (also called Mefloquine) led me to do much research on the subject. I discussed my problem with specialists in the States, Europe and Asia. Malaria and its treatment remains a very controversial subject (many scientists and doctors remain in disagreements). In this page, my intention is to educate people about the dangers of Malaria, but also on the responsibilities of all travelers in the third world to do their part to both stay safe and not perpetrate resistant strains amongst the local people. The concern is not only to protect one’s self from the painful effects of the disease, but also to be aware of the severe impacts traditional preventative measures for visiting tourists can have on the native population. Please refer to the section: Malaria Prevention, a controversial subject.


What is Malaria?

Quote from: http://www.malariatest.com./malaria.html (Flow Inc. has developed a rapid malaria assay appropriate for all clinical settings).

Malaria is said to be the most important parasitic disease that afflicts humans today. The WHO estimates that 270 million new malaria infections occur worldwide along with 110 million cases of illness and 2 million deaths where 25% of childhood deaths in Africa are attributed to malaria. Malaria is a mosquito-borne protozoal disease that is endemic throughout most of the tropical and semi-tropical regions of the world. Malaria transmission occurs in an estimated 100 countries where 2 billion people are at risk of malaria infection.

There are four species of the human malaria parasite: Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium ovale. P. falciparum and P. vivax are the most common and pathogenic forms of malaria. P. vivax causes severe morbidity but is rarely fatal while P. falciparum is fatal in about 1% of all cases which amounts to more than 95% of all malaria caused deaths worldwide.
Symptoms of malaria include: fever, chills, myalgia (muscle ache), headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Malaria Prevention, a controversial subject

Health Travel Clinics will warn you about malaria infection. They are right, your life is at risk in most tropical countries. But before you listen to their advice and start taking those prophylaxis medicines, you should be aware of what it entails. Most importantly, be aware that preventative medicines remain ineffective against some strains and the resistant strains are only spreading. So taking prophylaxis doesn’t protect you entirely – the preventative medicine you receive may be already outdated by the evolving malaria strains.

There are impacts of tourists’ use of prophylaxis. The malaria plasmodium is mutating continuously. The same way bacteria became resistant to penicillin – the magic antibiotic of the sixties – the strains of malaria are becoming immune to modern medicines. In many countries, the classic Quinine and Chloroquine medicines have become completely ineffective. One might think that it is easy enough for a traveler to pick-up a new medicine and be ready for the next tropical vacation. That new medicine too could soon become ineffective. Our biggest concern should be for the people living in those areas who do not have access to new medicines to combat newly resistant strains. When such medicines are available, they rarely can afford it. They rely on the natural medicines they have always used. When those become ineffective, the people succumb to the mutated disease we have helped to create by taking preventative prophylaxis. With more than 2 billion people exposed to this disease, we all have a responsibility to stop the mutation of Malaria.

Using the medicines as a cure after contracting malaria reduces the risk of mutation, as the virus doesn’t have as many opportunities to develop a new resistant strain. For us to take prophylaxis regularly, as a preventative is putting the local people’s lives at risk. It is up to each of us to decide if having a "completely malaria-risk-free" safe vacation in the tropics is worth the lives of local people in the area who will be exposed to a new strain of malaria that we help create.

Most malaria is curable. Why not just deal with Malaria when it occurs? The overall result is that we save ourselves from harmful side effects from taking semi-toxic prophylaxis medicines over a significant period of time and we don’t generate resistant strains that have significant impact on the native population.

Throughout this expedition, we are going to be continuously exposed to malaria. We will often be in very remote areas unable to access any medical facilities. My research has led me to a new type of medicine which we will take as treatment when we contract this disease. I cannot talk from experience yet, but Artenam certainly looks promising. Not only because it is produced from a natural plant derivative but it seems to treat most strains. It could easily be produced and used locally in most countries. We will keep updates on our health for the duration of CASKE 2000 and will let you know how Artenam is working for us. In the meantime I encourage you to contact the following organization for more information:

Arenco Pharmaceutical Company (Malaria and other Tropical Disease Research)

http:/www.arenco.be

You can also jump to: "More on the controversial subject"


A Possible alternative medicine for Malaria

"Artemisinin is a new antimalarial drug of Chinese-Vietnamese origin, derived from the herb Artemisia annua L., locally known as "qing hao" ' sweet wormwood or annual wormwood, and belonging to the family of Asteraccae.

This plant has been used for many centuries in Chinese traditional medicine as a treatment for fever and malaria."

This text was selected from: "Introduction to artemisinin and its derivative -B-Artemether" found at the following URL: http:/www.arenco.be


Malaria Test

The OptiMAL® Assay

Flow Inc. has developed a rapid malaria assay appropriate for all clinical settings. The OptiMAL® assay is a sensitive, simple to use dipstick assay that permits the detection of all major species of human malaria; and can distinguish between P. falciparum and P. vivax. In addition, the OptiMAL® assay can be used to monitor patient therapy.

http://www.malariatest.com./

6127 S.W. Corbett
Portland, Oregon
97201 USA
503-246-2710
503-245-7666 FAX
E-mail:
MIKEatFLOW@aol.com


Vaccine Approaches to Malaria

For years, scientists have researched possible vaccines for malaria. The research has led to potential candidates, but none has yet to be accepted widely. The research goes on. If you are interested, you might want to visit the following links:

http://www.brown.edu/Courses/Bio_160/malaria/index.html

Direct Questions and Comments to:
Robert Meguid - Robert_Meguid@brown.edu
Sean Coughlin - Sean_Coughlin@brown.edu
Victor Karkar - Victor_Karkar@brown.edu


More on the controversial subject

Peter Singfield, a Iatrologist in Belize wrote:

Over use of prophylactics in the war on malaria forced the malaria to evolve into a severe pathonogenic instead of a symbiotic relation. People raveling through endemic malaria areas full of prophylactics are only compounding the problem for the locals.

Peter Singfield

Quote from the August 97 issue of the American magazine The Atlantic Monthly entitled "Resurgence of a Deadly Disease" by Ellen Rippel Shell.  (The article discusses why science is currently losing the war against the spread of malaria. Last paragraph quoted here) :

...But in the West early success in controlling infectious disease has bred arrogance and a belief in whopping big solutions--vaccines and antibiotics that wipe out rather than contain.  We know successful pathogens to be highly evolved and clever creatures, but we bluster about, attacking them as though they were the dumb, plodding aggressors that perhaps we ourselves are. When a microbe mutates around our onslaught, we go off in search of a bigger weapon with which to blast it.  But like all re-emerging diseases, malaria has managed not only to dodge the bullets but also to turn the revolver back at us.  Our attacks have made the parasite not weaker and less certain but more virulent.  Controlling this disease requires vigilance, patience, and, to a certain degree, sacrifice--there are places we might have to avoid.  There are tradeoffs to be made, but so far we've shown ourselves reluctant to make them.  Scientists pursue their quest for an effective vaccine or a more powerful drug while treasure hunters of another kind [miners mentioned previously in the article] in Thailand and Brazil help the disease find a new foothold.  Whether the scientific adventures will eventually pay off is uncertain, but for now there's no question that a price is being paid.  Malaria, an ancient disease, a controllable disease, is spreading.

by Ellen Rippel Shell


IDRC: Malaria Control in a Nutshell

This text was written by: International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada

Researchers in Peru have discovered a low-cost, eco-friendly weapon in the fight against malaria: that weapon is COCONUTS. Coconuts are used to incubate a bacteria which successfully controls the larva of the malaria-bearing mosquito.

The Facts about Malaria

Malaria, one of the most debilitating diseases in the developing world, is making a comeback. Epidemics are increasing, despite a decade of control programs in various parts of the world. Malaria is spread by the bite of a mosquito. It causes fever, chills, nausea, and muscle pain and can lead to severe complications and death. Its weakening effects sap productivity; in countries where malaria is endemic, workforce and school absenteeism is high. Every minute, two children die from the effects of malaria somewhere in the tropics. Almost half of the world's population is at risk of catching malaria. About 300 to 500 million people suffer from the disease each year and more than one million die of it. Mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to chemical insecticides, such as DDT, that have been used for decades to control malaria. Moreover, insecticides are expensive to use and can pose a threat to human health and cause environmental contamination.

A Solution: Using coconuts to produce malaria-killing bacteria

The Coconut Laboratory

"Out in the field, the coconut can replace the petri dish and the lab." - Microbiologist and research team leader Palmira Ventosilla.

How does it work?

A cotton swab that has been doused with Bti is dropped through a hole drilled in a coconut. The hole is plugged with a wisp of cotton and sealed with candle wax. The coconut's hardshell protects the Bti during incubation while the coconut milk contains the amino acids and carbohydrates the bacteria must eat to reproduce. After the coconuts have fermented for two to three days, they are broken open and thrown into an infested pond. Along with their regular diet of algae, the mosquito larvae eat the bacteria. The Bti kills the larvae by destroying the stomach lining. In tests, the Bti killed nearly all the mosquito larvae in a pond and stopped breeding for 12 to 45 days. A typical pond needs two to three coconuts for each treatment. How the research was developed: A Chronology

Copyright 1997 \co International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada\      pub@idrc.ca | March 2, 1997


Malaria Links

Anyone interested in malaria should join the malaria list out of Australia and search the archives. The archives are rich with material.

Email to: listserv@wehi.edu.au with the following in the body: subscribe malaria@wehi.edu.au Your Name


This page was written by Jean-Philippe Soulé

This page was produced with an educational goal, it is not intended to be a medical guidelines. The author and CASKE 2000 accept no responsibility for anybody using this page instead of getting appropriate medical attention.

All people or organizations quoted have been acknowledged (please contact them directly for inquiries relating to their quote).

Malaria, Read the story by Jean-Philippe Soule

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