Malaria is predominantly a tropical disease . In India and other South Asian countries there is resurgence of malaria .
Malaria is made of two Italian words ‘Mal’ – bad and ‘ Aria’ – air .
Its synonyms are – Marsh miasma , Remittent fever , Ague , Jungle fever .
It is a mosquito borne infectious disease caused by parasitic protozoans of genus Plasmodium , (mainly P. vivax , P. falciparum , P. ovale , P.malariae ) . Commonly , the disease is transmitted by a bite from an infected female Anopheles mosquito , which introduces the organisms from its saliva into a person’s circulatory system .
The diagnosis is confirmed by the detection of malarial parasites in peripheral blood smear ( PBS ).
According to Ayurveda , it is similar to ‘Visham Jwara ‘ which means irregular fever , intermittent fever . Also described as ‘Varunasya Ragya’ in Atharvaveda .
Visham jvara is sannipatika in nature , may persist for longer time because of doshas being situated in deeper dhatus ( tissues ) .
Varunsya Ragya ( AV 1/25/3 ) i.e Varun depicts ‘Water’ and ‘Ragya’ means disease producing germs ( micro organisms ) that originate from accumulated water , which points towards Visham Jvara . Thus Atharvaveda considers that Agantuja ( external agent ) plays a major role in Visham Jvara .
This external agent has been named ‘Makka’ or ‘Mashaka’ which resembles Anopheles mosquito .
Malaria During Pregnancy :
Pregnant women have an increased risk of infection and parasitaemia may be great due to altered immunity .
Malarial parasites may cross placenta , particularly in non – immune mothers leading to congenital malaria . The parasites infest placenta and intervillous spaces become blocked .So , there is diminished blood flow to the fetus . This is mostly seen with Plasmodium falciparum and in the second half of pregnancy .
Effect of Malaria on Mother :
a) Anaemia due to hemolysis and Folic Acid deficiency .
b) Hypoglycemia – due to increased glucose consumption both by the host and parasite .
c) Metabolic Acidosis .
d) Jaundice – due to hepatic dysfunction .
e) Renal Failure – due to block of renal microcirculation .
f) Pulmonary edema and Respiratory distress .
g) Convulsions and Coma .
Risk and severity of infection are high due to immune compromised state and Complications are high .
Effect on Fetus :
b) Preterm Labor
c) Pre maturity
d) IUGR ( Intrauterine growth retardation )
e) IUFD ( Intrauterine fetal death )
Preventive Measures :
Pyrethroid impregnated mosquito nets and electrically heated mats should be used .
Stay indoor during dusk and dawn .
Wear socks , long pants , long sleeve shirts when outdoors .
Neem oil should be used for spraying .
Fumigation with guggulu , neem leaves , haritaki , yellow sarson and ghee should be done .
Prophylaxis and Treatment depend on local area , the dominant Plasmodium type and pattern of Drug resistance .
Patterns of resistance to Anti malarials change so rapidly that expert advice should always be sought regarding the treatment and prophylaxis .
Risks of Malaria is life threatening in pregnancy, so benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risk of anti malarial drugs .
The antimalarial drugs when given in therapeutic doses have got no effect on uterine contraction unless uterus is irritable .
Along with Antimalarials , Folic Acid should be given daily to prevent anaemia .
Ayurvedic Treatment :
Luke warm water or Shadanga paniya ( Decoction made with herbs – Motha , Pitpapada , Khas , Rakta chandan , Sugandhabala , Sonth ) should be used for drinking .
Soup made with Mudga , Masoor , Chana is beneficial .
Yavagu ( Gruel ) prepared with Shashtikshali rice with Pippali and Sonth added to it , should be taken in small quantities when hungry .
Giloy juice is helpful .
Cold infusion ( Hima / Fant ) made with Chirayata , Motha , Giloy , Sonth or Patha , Khas , Sugandhabala should be used .
Chutney made with garlic and sesame seeds is adviced .
Treatment should be strictly under supervision . Along with the treatment , Garbhini Paricharya should be followed to safeguard the health of mother and fetus .
The top 10 human parasites according to WHO are Ascaris lumbricoides , Hookworm , Malarial parasites , Trichuris trichuria , Amoebae , Filarial worms , Schistosomes , Giardia lamblia , Trypanosomes and Leishmaniasis species . Together these top 10 cause more deaths than anything else apart from HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis .
So , this World Health Day should be an opportunity to give an impetus to the efforts in eradicating malaria and Ayurveda has an important role in it .