The 25th of April is World Malaria Day. A day set aside globally to raise awareness on malaria
The essence is to continuously push forward the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community in unifying around a common goal of a malaria free world
Theme for this year – Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives
While the global attention is on encouraging the development and innovation of newer tools for vector control, diagnosis, treatment and elimination of malaria, we at MEDIC-ECHOES will like to use the opportunity to address a very salient issue regarding malaria that plague this region of the world. It’s about often associating malaria with typhoid
Each time an average person falls ill, it is typical for them to attribute it to typhoid and malaria and hence would walk into any hospital and request to be treated in that regard. Most of them would present to the hospital after they have gone to a laboratory for a widal test and would gladly hand the doctor the result for treatment.
Can someone have typhoid and malaria at the same time?
The answer is yes. This is referred to as”Co-infection”. However, it is not every time that you have malaria that typhoid infection occurs. They are caused by different agents and are different disease entities even though they share a common symptomatology.
Malaria is a disease (life-threatening) caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bite of infected female anopheles mosquitoes. Symptoms are fever, headache, chills, nausea, and vomiting, body ache and fatigue, etc. There are other more severe symptoms especially in complicated or severe malaria which can even cause death.
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. It is usually spread through contaminated food or water. Symptoms include prolonged fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea. In some, rashes may be seen. Severe cases may lead to serious complications and death.
Similarity In symptoms
Although caused by different organisms, both diseases share similar symptomatology, especially in the acute phase. However, classic manifestations of typhoid fever include relative bradycardia, pulse-temperature dissociation, and “rose spots” (faint salmon-colored macules on the trunk and abdomen).
Respective Diagnostic Processes
Malaria can be diagnosed with a rapid diagnostic test which uses immunochromatographic methods to detect plasmodium specific antigen in a finger-prick blood sample, but the “gold standard” for diagnosing it remains a well prepared and well-stained blood film.
For typhoid fever, blood culture remains the “gold standard” for its diagnosis but it requires laboratory equipment and technical training that are nonetheless lacking in most of our primary healthcare centers. Consequent to this, a widal test that is readily available and inexpensive is resorted to in the diagnosis of typhoid fever in these centers.
I Have Treated Malaria But I Still Have Symptoms, Could It Be Typhoid?
Not necessarily. There are various reasons why you might still have symptoms after taking antimalarial
- you probably didn’t complete your medication as prescribed
- Drug resistant malaria
- Drug-drug interaction
- Under dosing