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Malaria in the Philippines: 4 Facts Every Parent Must Know

Malaria in the Philippines: 4 Facts Every Parent Must Know

Malaria in the Philippines promisingly shows a declining trend in cases. But that doesn’t mean that parents can lower their guard. Here’s what you need to know about malaria infection in children.

Malaria in the Philippines: Where Do We Stand?

The latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) was from January to May of 2017. What’s promising is there seemed to be a downward trend when it comes to malaria suspect cases.

To further explain, the experts reported that from January 1 to May 6 of the year 217, there were only 501 suspect malaria cases. This figure is said to be 71% lower compared to the same period in 2016.

malaria in the Philippines

More than 80% of those suspect cases came from Region IV-B, particularly in Palawan, followed by 36 cases in Davao del Norte and 20 cases in Sultan Kudarat. The rest are scattered in various regions, with Metro Manila reporting only 2 cases.

Despite the decline in the number of cases, doctors still emphasize the importance of prevention and early intervention, especially in young kids.

4 Facts about Malaria in Children

As we wait for the DOH’s new Malaria Surveillance Report in the Philippines, let’s review the following facts about the condition’s cause, signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Fact #1: Only 1 kind of mosquito can spread malaria

The first thing you need to know about malaria is that only one kind of mosquito can spread it to humans: the female Anopheles mosquito, which is essentially night-biting.

When an infected mosquito bites a person and contaminates their blood with a Plasmodium parasite, please note that they can also spread malaria through:

  • Blood transfusion
  • Organ transplant
  • Shared needles or syringes

Congenital malaria is also possible; it happens when a mother transmits the parasite to her unborn child. Furthermore, should another female Anopheles mosquito bite an infected person, that mosquito can transmit the parasite to another person.

Fact #2: The symptoms don’t start immediately

Depending on the type of Plasmodium parasite in your child’s body, the symptoms appear 7 to 30 days after being bitten. In fact, some types become dormant for a year!

Malaria symptoms only appear once the parasites mature. Keep in mind that malaria is a serious (and sometimes, fatal) infection that leads to symptoms like:

  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Cough
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • A general feeling of discomfort

malaria in the Philippines

Fact #3: Prompt treatment is crucial

According to reports, with immediate medical care, almost everyone infected with malaria makes a full recovery. So, seek medical attention for your child right away if you observe the signs and symptoms we listed above.

In the clinic or hospital, the physician will order blood tests to check for the presence of Plasmodium parasites, their type, whether or not it’s resistant to certain medications, and if it’s resulting in serious complications.

Treatment for malaria in children depends on the following considerations:

  • Type of malaria
  • The severity of signs and symptoms
  • Whether or not the child had taken antimalarial drugs for prevention: usually, parents take this precaution when they expect to travel to a malaria-prone area.

Mosquito Bite Rashes in Kids: When Should Parents Worry?

Many antimalarial medicines don’t have pediatric formulations, so the doctor often divides the adult dose.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are well-tolerated by children under 5. ACTs combine two or more medicines to fight malaria parasites.

Other medications include chloroquine phosphate, primaquine phosphate, and quinine sulfate.

Fact #4: Malaria in the Philippines can be prevented

Here’s the good news: there are many ways to prevent malaria in children. Non-drug prevention strategies include:

  • Use of insecticide-impregnated bed netting while sleeping.
  • Wearing long-sleeves, pants, and socks.
  • Application of mosquito repellents

If you plan to travel to malaria-prone areas in the Philippines, you can also talk to the doctor about taking preventive antimalarial drugs. You and your family should take these medicines before traveling and might need to continue taking them after your return.

Final Reminders

Please note that malaria is not contagious, so you don’t need to “isolate” your child from their siblings. However, they might need to take time off from school to recuperate. Additionally, an infection doesn’t trigger immunity. Hence, a once-infected child can get infected again.

Learn more about Mosquito Bites in Children here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Feb 18
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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