Today let's get back to the routine and figure out just what malaria is.
From my reading on the Mayo Clinic's website, malaria is a disease (much like HIV/AIDS) that is spread by a parasite through contaminated blood. Most often spread by mosquitoes who are carriers of the parasite, it can also be spread mother to child, through contaminated blood used in blood transfusions and through shared/dirty needles used for drugs.
Once the parasite (called plasmodium) is in your bloodstream, it then travels to the liver. Here's the bad news: once it reaches the liver, it stays there for a certain amount of time -- up to a year -- and during this time, there are no symptoms.
When the parasite is all grown up, it gets back into the bloodstream and this is when malaria does it's worst: the symptoms include chills, sweating, fever, and vomiting. Those often lead to dehydration and malnutrition, which makes it the lethal disease that it is.
Kinda scary, yes?
The Mayo Clinic has some other information, too: people living in South African countries, India and several islands including Haiti are at a much higher risk of contracting malaria, and in many of those places, there just are not the appropriate resources to save people who get it.
Tomorrow, let's discuss more of how malaria can be prevented and cured! It's one of those things that is all about knowing too much to do too little.