A malaria breath analyzer test is currently under development by the researchers of Washington University in St.Louis, Missouri.The breath analyzer can detect six unique chemical signatures in people infected with malaria.
The modern screening test for malaria is called malaria rapid diagnostic tests.RDTs resemble dipsticks that can provide test results from 15 to 20 minutes.The advantage of RDTs is that these do not require a laboratory to confirm a malaria infection.But RDTs cannot easily distinguish the difference between drug-resistant malaria and other types of malaria.It is important to have an accurate diagnosis of malaria to determine the proper treatment for the patient.
The gold standard for screening malaria is through microscopy examination of blood films.Doctors will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and determine what kind of malaria has infected the patient.But this screening suffers from two disadvantages - most rural areas are not equipped to allow the procedure, and the accuracy of the result depends on the doctor's skill and the malaria's level in blood.
In the study, 35 children from Malawi, some with malaria and some without, provided breath samples to test the device's accuracy.The analyzer was able to correctly identify 29 children with malaria -- an 83 percent success rate.The researchers continue to improve the device to increase its success rate in detecting malaria.Once ready, the breath analyzer will be a cost-effective, fast, convenient, and reliable method to diagnose malaria in several countries in Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
"It's clear that if we had fast, easy-to-use, reliable diagnostic devices that both health care providers and families trust, we could reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.This would have a major impact on control of malaria because all current diagnostic methods require blood sampling.You can imagine how much easier a 'breathalyzer' would be to use for screening an entire village or at a border crossing," said Audrey Odom John, lead researcher of the study and a recognized malaria expert at the Washington University School of Medicine.
Malaria Symptoms and Treatment
About 100 species the mosquito Anopheles transmits malaria parasites to humans.But the Anopheles gambiae is the one of the best known to transmit Plasmodium falciparum, a drug-resistant malaria parasite.Anopheles may also transmit other diseases such as the canine heartworm, filariasis, and O'nyong'nyong fever.
Malaria can occur if the person is bitten by a mosquito infected with the parasite or by passing the disease from the mother to the baby, also known as congenital malaria.The infection causes several symptoms such as high fever, profuse sweating, headaches, nausea and vomiting, stomach ache, muscle pain, anemia, bloody stool, and coma.The infection can also lead to serious complications including pulmonary edema or accumulation of fluids in the lungs, cerebral malaria or swelling of the brain's blood vessels, destruction of red blood cells, and multiple organ failure.
Malaria can be a fatal disease if left untreated.Typically, malaria patients are brought to the hospital to receive chloroquine treatment.However, artemisinin-based therapies are used in areas with resistance to chloroquine.No vaccine is currently available for malaria.
To prevent malaria, discuss with your doctor your plan of visiting an area where malaria is common.You may be prescribed anti-malaria drugs to prevent infection that should be taken before, during, or after your trip.Other ways to prevent mosquitoes from biting you include sleeping under a mosquito net and covering your body with bug sprays containing DEET, or N, N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide.
Preferred Targets of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes have preferred targets and there are reasons why some people have more mosquito bites than others.These vampiric pests like certain elements found in our bodies and these attract them if the elements reach the skin's surface.Genetics accounts for 85 percent susceptibility rate of humans to mosquitoes.
- Certain acids like uric acid lure mosquitoes.
- High cholesterol level attracts them but it does not mean that mosquitoes bite people with high levels of cholesterol.
- Carbon dioxide emitted by our bodies can be smelled by mosquitoes within 50 meters. People with high levels of carbon dioxide are the common prey of these pesky insects.
- When you sweat, your skin secretes lactic acid that attracts mosquitoes.People with large amounts of lactic acid on the skin are often bitten by mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes like people with blood type O than people with blood type A and B.To make it worse, about 85 percent of the people in the world secretes a chemical signal through their skin to reveal what blood type they have.
Since mosquitoes rely on biochemistry to find prey, you can twist their senses by using certain foods that will make you repulsive to them.You can eat one or two garlic cloves per day to mask your scent with garlic odor or rub a slice of onion over your skin to keep them away.If you do not prefer the scent of spices, rub fresh orange or lemon peels over your exposed skin because mosquitoes hate them.You can also use vanilla solution -- one tablespoon of vanilla extract diluted in one cup of water-- and apply it on exposed skin to repel mosquitoes, blackflies, and even ticks.
- At least 91 countries in the world had ongoing malaria transmission in 2015.
- The African Region of the World Health Organization was home to 90 percent of malaria cases and 92 percent of malaria deaths.
- In 2015, there were 212 million malaria cases and 429,000 deaths from malaria.