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Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the United Nations said in a report released last week that malaria could be wiped out by 2040, despite previous failed attempts to eradicate the disease, as well as drug-resistant problems, the Associated Press reported.

The report calls for the doubling of funds to spend on malaria by 2025 and new ways to control mosquitoes that spread the disease, the AP reported. The World Health Organization had targeted the end of 2015 for cutting malaria cases “near zero,” but about 500,000 children still die from the disease every year.

Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper discussed what malaria is and why it, as well as many other diseases, are difficult to eradicate completely.

Q: What is malaria?

A: “Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite. The parasite is transferred to humans by the bite of a mosquito. Symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, stomach problems and yellowing of the skin. Severe cases can progress to cause confusion, seizures and even death.”

Q: What is the treatment?

A: “Treatment centers around a variety of anti-malarial medications, either by mouth or IV. Other supportive treatment may include oxygen and IV fluids.”

Q: How can it be prevented?

A: “Taking medication before, during and after travel to areas where malaria is common can prevent infection. While in these areas, staying inside at night, wearing protective clothing, using bug spray with DEET, and using treated bed nets are other methods of disease prevention.”

Q: Where do cases still crop up?

A: “Malaria is still common in areas of Africa, New Guinea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey.”

Q: What challenges are there in eradicating it—or any other disease?

A: “Fully getting rid of the disease is difficult due to many reasons. The widespread areas affected, health conditions and economy of these locations, and the way it is spread are all factors.”

Dr. Chad Jumper is a family practice physician at Boiling Springs Family Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. He attended Penn State and completed his residency at Reading Hospital and Medical Center. He is a member of the American Medical Association and the American Association of Family Practice. Check Boiling Springs Family Medicine on Twitter @DrChadJumper and on Facebook. This information is intended for educational purposes. Please consult your health care provider for advice about treatments that may affect your individual health.

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