Malaria life cycle is critical to understanding how the disease is transmitted, and how it can be prevented and treated. It must also be taken into account that the disease is caused by a parasite that is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites a person, the parasite enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver, where it multiplies and develops before returning to the bloodstream and causing symptoms. But do you know exactly how the cycle starts from the beginning to the end?, and how it repeats itself again? That is why here, we will show you the importance of this cycle, and thus prevent you from getting infected with our best measures.
Before reviewing the Malaria Life Cycle, let’s define what malaria is…
As a starter, it is clear that is a parasitic disease that is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It is a serious disease that affects millions of people worldwide, especially in tropical and subtropical countries.
Its life cycle involves two hosts: the female Anopheles mosquito and man or other primates. In the mosquito the sexual reproduction of the parasite is carried out, and it is therefore the definitive host; asexual multiplication takes place in man, being the intermediate host, in all cases.
Malaria life cycle
As it begins?
The cycle begins specifically when the infected female mosquito bites the man to feed, implanting in the bloodstream, along with saliva, the sporophyte state of the parasite or infective state for humans, being a little more understandable. Through the blood, the sporophytes reach the liver. In liver cells, sporozoites develop and multiply (primary exoerythrocytic schizogony or preerythrocytic schizogony) transforming into the schizont state which, upon rupture, releases thousands of merozoites.
In the case of the species P. vivax and P. ovale, the sporozoites can be in the liver cells for a while without evolving, being called hypnozoites. After a period of months to years, the hypnozoites can become active again and multiply (secondary exoerythrocytic schizogony).
The merozoites released into the bloodstream penetrate the interior of the red blood cells (erythrocytes), where they mature and divide (erythrocytic schizogony) giving rise to a variable number of merozoites. Which exit the bloodstream and invade new erythrocytes (in this phase they are produces the manifestation of the disease in humans). After 2-3 erythrocytic schizogonia, some merozoites begin a gamogony process, transforming into gametocytes (male or microgametocytes and female or macrogametocytes).
When the vector mosquito bites or feeds on an infected human, it ingests the erythrocytes with the gametocytes. In the insect’s stomach, the gametocytes are released and the true male and female gametes are formed. After fertilization occurs, the zygote formed evolves into an ookinet, which penetrates the stomach epithelium and becomes an oocyst that. After several mitotic divisions and meiosis, releases thousands of sporozoites, which migrate to the mosquito’s salivary glands, so that the infected mosquito biting a new human starts the cycle all over again.
How long does the cycle repeat?
The malaria life cycle can be repeated many times within a single mosquito and in multiple people. The duration of the malaria life cycle varies according to the species of Plasmodium and the environmental conditions. In some species, the entire cycle may take only 9 days, while in others it may take many weeks or even months.
How do mosquitoes appear?
Female mosquitoes breed in water (freshwater accumulations on the ground, wetlands, rivers, ponds, and puddles), where they lay eggs and feed on blood, so, they usually bite humans at dusk and dawn. Ambient temperature, humidity, and rainfall will determine your chances of survival, and therefore, your likelihood of spreading disease. The life cycle of the parasite in infected female mosquitoes varies with temperature: the warmer, the environment, increasing the probability of transmission.
At a temperature of 25 ºC the cycle typically lasts from 9 to 21 days, at 15 ºC for P. vivax or 20 ºC for P. falciparum, the cycle is not complete, and therefore, it cannot transmit the infection.
What recommendations can we give to prevent the spread?
Understanding this way, the confirmed cases of infection in Western Europe are travelers or immigrants from the affected areas. It is crucial that people who live in areas, where this is common, take steps to prevent the disease. This includes using insect repellent, sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, and taking preventive medication if recommended. Just like people traveling to areas, take precautionary measures. If you experience a fever, or any symptoms after traveling to an area where the disease is common, you should get medical attention immediately.
In fact! Here are some tips to prevent when traveling to endemic areas:
- Consult a doctor: Always consult a doctor who specializes in tropical or infectious diseases before traveling to malaria-endemic areas. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best way to protect yourself and recommend the appropriate medications.
- Take preventive medicines: There are many medicines that can prevent that. It is important to take the medications recommended by your doctor as directed before, during, and after your trip.
- Close doors and windows: Close doors and windows or install mosquito nets to prevent mosquitoes from entering the room.
- Avoid peak mosquito activity: Mosquitoes that transmit it are usually most active at dawn and dusk. Avoid being outdoors during these hours and use insect repellent.
By internalizing the Malaria life cycle, critical points can be identified where interventions can be made to prevent transmission of the disease. In addition, this life cycle is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Doctors and scientists can use this information to develop better diagnostic tests and more effective treatments. Without previously forgetting that this continues to be one of the main causes of death in many parts of the world. By taking preventative measures and seeking early treatment if the disease is suspected, we can help prevent the spread and protect the health of those affected by the disease.
If you are a person residing in a region where the disease is still prevalent, takes into account the following recommendations:
- Wear protective clothing: Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants to cover most of your body and reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
- Use insect repellent: Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) or other ingredients recommended by health professionals. Be sure to follow the product instructions.
- Use mosquito nets: Install mosquito nets on the windows and doors of your house, and use mosquito nets to cover your bed while you sleep.
- Avoid high-risk areas: Normally, the Malaria life cycle occurs in environments with low temperatures
Prevention is the best way to protect yourself against this agent. If you develop symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, and night sweats during or after your trip, seek medical attention immediately if you are a tourist. If not treated properly, it can cause serious complications, including brain damage, kidney failure, and severe anemia. Malaria can also be fatal, especially in young children and people with weakened immune systems. If we take these tips into consideration, we will help ourselves and others not to continue expanding the Malaria life cycle.