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Where do You Have the Highest Risk of Getting Malaria?

Malaria is one of the top killers in the world. The disease occurs due to a parasite that multiplies in the bloodstream. However, not all countries are malaria-endemic. There are several conditions, such as the tropical climate and the presence of the Anopheles mosquito.

Where does malaria occur?

There are more than 100 countries where malaria occurs. A mosquito-borne parasite causes the disease, so it is mostly present in tropical regions. Found across all continents, Africa and Asia have particularly large Malaria-endemic areas. Also, tropical regions in Central and South America see malaria occurrences. Further, parts of the Middle East and some Pacific Islands have cases of endemic malaria.

However, malaria cases also register outside of the endemic areas. This happens when a person infected with malaria travels outside the endemic zone. As such, it is essential to keep in mind that you may suffer from malaria sickness upon your return home especially as malaria can have a more extended incubation period of around 30 days.

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Places with the highest risk of malaria

In 2017, five countries saw the highest number of malaria cases in the world. They accounted for nearly half of the 219 million cases. Nigeria was the highest, with 25% of all malaria cases occurring in the country. The other four were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, India, and Uganda.

If you are traveling to these areas on a humanitarian mission, it is likely that you will need to take extra precautions to avoid contracting malaria.

Malaria in Africa

In 2016, the majority of the cases of malaria and malaria-related deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. These accounted for over 90% of the global disease burden. And about 290,000 of malaria-related deaths were children under five years of age.

As such, the African region carries the most massive burden of malaria. This is due to a variety of reasons including climatic conditions, but mostly because of the shortcomings of the healthcare system. It is also important to consider that many malaria cases might go under-reported due to lack of access to proper healthcare facilities. This means the disease burden might be even higher.

If you are traveling to sub-Saharan Africa, make sure to speak to your healthcare professional about malaria prevention.

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Malaria in Asia

Many countries in Asia are endemic for malaria. In South Asia, these are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In Eastern Asia, these are China, DPR Korea and the Republic of Korea. For South-east Asia, these include Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Finally, in Pacific Asia, malaria is endemic in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.

This means that nearly 2.1 billion people in Asia are considered at risk of contracting malaria. Despite this, the risk of malaria disease in Asia is significantly lower than in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, the number of malaria cases has been dramatically reduced in the last 20 years. Also, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore are malaria-free, despite endemic malaria.

Malaria in Central and South America

In Central and South America, the prevalent risk for malaria disease is in the Amazon and adjacent areas. Also, some rural regions below 800 meter in altitude have malaria risk. Meanwhile, urban areas are generally safe from malaria, with minimal risk for contracting the disease.

Travelers to Brazil, Belize, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Venezuela, and Suriname should consider malaria prevention.  However, this is mostly applicable to those traveling to the jungle or rural areas for a more prolonged time.

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Malaria climate conditions

The presence of malaria parasite depends on several factors. These include temperature, humidity, and rainfall. Partially, this is due to the survival ability of the parasite. Also, climate affects the Anopheles mosquito life cycle, the primary transmitter of the malaria parasite.

Typically, malaria is endemic in areas with tropical and subtropical climates. Transmission in these climates occurs year round. This is because the Plasmodium falciparum parasite that causes the disease cannot fully develop in temperatures below. 20°C (68°F). Also, mosquito breeding sites occur more frequently in areas with heavy rainfall and high humidity.

Essentially, this means that in many malaria-endemic countries, malaria only occurs in some parts of the country. There is a low risk of contracting malaria disease at very high altitudes and in deserts. Plus, during colder or drier seasons, there are fewer mosquitoes and lower malaria risk.

Malaria disease burden

In November 2018, the World Health Organization released the latest World Malaria Report. According to the report, in 2017, there were 219 million registered malaria cases. Also, there were 435,000 malaria-related deaths.

However, these cases and adverse outcomes are not evenly distributed among malaria-endemic countries. In 2017, 92% of all malaria cases occurred in Africa, as did 93% of malaria-related deaths. The most vulnerable group was children under five years old. They accounted for 66% of all malaria deaths worldwide.

Despite this disproportionate burden, malaria persists as a global health issue, and not a localized one. Cases of the disease are reported worldwide. It can affect anyone living or visiting a malaria-endemic area. And the condition has a considerable burden on the humanitarian and global health sectors.

Malaria MAP

MAP is a global database project that reports on malaria risk and global health coverage of malaria. The project provides an interactive map, where you can see cases of malaria disease across the world. However, the initiative goes beyond simple mapping.

It also collects a variety of other malariometric data, which then helps to develop innovative methods of analysis and inform potential solutions. This includes information from malaria surveillance systems, surveys on malaria parasite rates, and malaria disease burden. Also, it captures global environmental conditions that impact the transmission of malaria.

The world can beat malaria. Bu only if the global health and humanitarian organizations come together and leverage their efforts in fighting this devastating disease.

Malaria; everything you need to know

Understanding this disease is an essential part of the global health and humanitarian community for the reason that malaria disease affects millions of people annually. Therefore it is vital to continue to take a stand against this disease and help people all around the world. If this article was of interest, you might also be interested in other items on this disease; ‘everything you need to know about malaria disease.’

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