MALARIA

I don’t often think of malaria as being a current issue for veterans. After all, I thought it was supposed to be affiliated with jungle conditions where mosquitos breed in droves.

Actually, malaria is common in many temperate or tropical climates. It is not unusual to contract malaria if you’ve been in parts of Asia, Africa, Central or South America. For veterans seeking medical treatment, malaria should be considered if the veteran served in Korea, Afghanistan, Africa or any other malaria-endemic country.

Malaria can be fatal if not treated properly, and can lie dormant in the liver for more than 4 years. If you have a history of overseas service in an area where malaria is common, your doctor should evaluate you for malaria any time you show any of the symptoms:
• Recurring fever
• Fever of unknown origin
• Shivering
• Sweating
• Malaise
• Weakness
• Gastrointestinal complaints (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea)
• Neurologic complaints (dizziness, confusion, disorientation, and coma)
• Headache
• Back pain
• Anemia
• Jaundice

The incubation period may be 9 to 30 days after infection, but in some cases may be as long as 12 months. If treated unsuccessfully, symptoms may reappear years after the initial infection. Some drug resistant forms of the disease are now showing up too.

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment should begin immediately, guided by 1) the infecting species (multiple species may be present), 2) the condition of the patient, and 3) the susceptibility of the species treated to the drugs used.

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