You develop a fever and headache and feel a bit run down. You decide that you probably have malaria, so you go to your local medicine vendor to buy paracetamol and an anti-malarial drug.
Did you know that Chloroquine is no longer effective against malaria?
You contribute to drug resistance by self-medication with antimalarial drugs. This means that malaria is becoming resistant to drugs that used to be effective against it because of the indiscriminate use of antimalarial drugs.
Every fever is not Malaria! Other diseases like Typhoid, Flu, Pneumonia, Lassa Fever and even Ebola all have similar early symptoms as malaria.
Classically, with malaria, you have periodic chills, rigors, and high fevers followed by profuse sweating, which occur at regular intervals of 48 to 72 hours. Symptoms may also include headache, fatigue/Loss of energy, nausea and vomiting, muscle or back pain or both, loss of appetite, dizziness, and delirium (especially in children). Malaria sometimes causes a dry cough. Again, all of these symptoms can occur in other infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites.
In some cases, malaria can lead to impaired function of the brain or spinal cord, seizures, or loss of consciousness. Sometimes a stroke can present this way and it is critical that it is not misdiagnosed as malaria.
There are reliable, quick and simple tests available to detect whether or not you have malaria. Testing before treatment ensures that you’re being treated for the right problem.
- A Malaria Rapid Diagnosis Test (RDT) is done by pricking your finger and will show if you have malaria and treatment is necessary.
- A Urine Malaria Test (UMT) is also now undergoing the approval process for general use, and requires only a small amount of urine to show if you have malaria.
Children especially, should be tested before treatment so that they can receive proper treatment with ACT (Artemisinin Combination Therapy) drugs. Self-diagnosing a more serious condition as malaria happens routinely and is the most common reason for delay in treatment of illnesses that could have been easily managed if detected early.
Remember, Every fever is not Malaria! You contribute to drug resistance by self-medication with antimalarial drugs AND you may be misdiagnosing a more serious condition. A simple Malaria Rapid Diagnosis Test will indicate if treatment is necessary – even for children.