Celebrate World Malaria Day 2013! Learn more about malaria prevention. April 25, 2013 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Key Takeaways: Malaria is a potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease . Malaria is a global problem affecting nearly 100 countries. Once bitten by a malaria-infected mosquito, it can take between 7 to 30 days before the first symptoms appear. If traveling to regions where malaria is prevalent, be sure to discuss your trip with a Travel Medicine Specialist prior to departure. World Malaria Day is today, April 25th, and, globally, many people will participate in a range of activities to celebrate the progress made by the global development community in combating malaria. Indeed, there is much to celebrate as investments in malaria prevention have yielded remarkable results over the past several years. Nonetheless, significant work remains to be done, and one of the goals of this day is to further raise awareness of this deadly disease. Malaria deaths in Africa have been reduced by one third during the last decade. In addition, 35 out of 53 other countries affected by malaria have reduced their cases by 50 percent in this same time frame. In further good news, child mortality rates have decreased by about 20 percent. What is Malaria? Malaria is a potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease carried by the Anopheles mosquito. An estimated 216 million cases of malaria occurred around the world in 2010, and 655,000 people perished. 91 percent of these deaths occurred in Africa. Malaria symptoms vary widely, and after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito, there is an incubation period that can last from seven to 30 days before the first symptoms appear. While some people have few or mild symptoms, others may become severely ill, and even die. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, and headaches. A mild case of malaria can have a duration of less than a day and will have symptoms that are consistent with the flu; this tends to begin with chills and shivers and ends with sweating as the body temperature returns to normal. Severe cases of malaria, however, can result in organ failure and severely abnormal metabolism and blood values. The brain can be affected, causing impairment of the consciousness, seizures, comas, and other neurological irregularities. Severe anemia is not uncommon. Another very serious issue can be acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Even after recovering from an episode of this illness, patients may have additional attacks. Travelers to regions in which malaria is endemic are usually counseled to take anti-malarial drugs and take proper mosquito precautions. However, it is still possible to contract the disease, and it is possible that symptoms do not appear for a significant amount of time after exposure. Therefore, should you feel ill after a trip abroad, be sure to seek out healthcare as soon as possible and tell you doctor about your trip itinerary What has been done to combat malaria? Malaria is a global problem affecting nearly 100 countries, and it is particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. However, this disease is preventable and treatable. Indeed, malaria used to be prevalent in Europe and the U.S., but aggressive prevention measures and treatment eliminated the disease in 1951. Over the past decade, one third of developing nations have seen a 50 percent decline in cases and deaths due to timely diagnosis and treatment. Anti-malarial drugs, spraying homes with safe insecticides, and the use of insecticide-treated bed nets for night protection are largely responsible for this decline. Funding for malaria has increased almost six-fold in the past 10 years. The Gates Foundation has played a significant role here, and there has been significant coordination between donor governments, NGOs, and other international actors. However, much work remains to be done in combatting this significant global public health threat.