Current and future directions in the prevention and treatment of Malaria

Author(s): Nardeen Perko, Tewodros Kebede, Shaker A. Mousa

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is carried by the Anopheles mosquito. Among the four Plasmodium species that can infect humans, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum are the most common. A person can contract the disease after being bitten by an infected insect and can invade and destroy human cells on a deadly rampage through a development cycle. Millions of people die every year from malaria, most of whom live in undeveloped countries in Africa and Asia, where the disease is endemic. Preventative efforts such as vector control, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, seasonal malaria chemoprevention, and intermittent preventive treatment for infants and pregnant women are an important place to start reducing malaria transmission. Through the World Health Organization and many researchers’ efforts, vaccines such as RTS,S/AS01 and PfSPZ exist among many others currently in clinical trials. Also, treatment guidelines have not changed for a long time, and many of the anti-malarial drugs currently have had cases of resistance. Malaria and COVID-19 can have similar presentation and common symptoms including fever, breathing difficulties and acute onset headache, which may lead to misdiagnosis of malaria for COVID-19 and vice versa. This review highlights the development of prevention and treatment strategies that aim to reduce malaria cases worldwide and put into perspective future clinical trials.

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