- Recently, A not very common type of malaria, Plasmodium ovale, has been identified in a jawan in Kerala.
Types of malaria
- Malaria is caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, if the mosquito itself is infected with a malarial parasite.
- There are five kinds of malarial parasites — Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax (the commonest ones), Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium knowlesi.
- Therefore, to say that someone has contracted the Plasmodium ovale type of malaria means that the person has been infected by that particular parasite.
Burden of Malaria in India
- In India, out of 1.57 lakh malaria cases in the high-burden states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Madhya Pradesh in 2019, 1.1 lakh cases (70%) were cases of falciparum malaria, according to a statement by the Health Ministry on December 2.
- In 2018, the National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) estimated that approximately 5 lakh people suffered from malaria (63% were of Plasmodium falciparum); researchers writing in the Malaria Journal of BMC felt the numbers could be an underestimate.
- The recent World Malaria Report 2020 said cases in India dropped from about 20 million in 2000 to about 5.6 million in 2019.
- P ovale rarely causes severe illness and there is no need for panic.
- Symptoms include fever for 48 hours, headache and nausea, and the treatment modality is the same as it is for a person infected with P vivax.
- P ovale is no more dangerous than getting a viral infection.
- It is termed ovale as about 20% of the parasitised cells are oval in shape.
Africa and elsewhere
- P ovale malaria is endemic to tropical Western Africa. According to scientists at NIMR, P ovale is relatively unusual outside of Africa and, where found, comprises less than 1% of the isolates.
- It has also been detected in the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, but is still relatively rate in these areas.
- In a 2016 study on the China-Myanmar border, it was found that P ovale and P malariae occurred at very low prevalence, but were often misidentified.
- In another study, carried out in China’s Jiangsu Province, indigenous malaria cases decreased significantly over 2011-14, but imported cases of P ovale and P malariae had increased, and were often misdiagnosed.