The government in Nigeria is urging citizens to use a new, simple test for malaria.
The test is available at Nigerian drugs stores. Each box sells for $12 and comes with five test strips. They offer a quick, painless way to inspect a person’s urine for signs of malaria.
Up until now, many Nigerians took medicine every time they developed a high body temperature, thinking that they might have the disease.
Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium. Mosquitoes infected with the organism pass the disease to people through mosquito bites.
The parasites reproduce in the human liver, and then infect red blood cells. After they enter the blood cells, they reproduce again. As they do this, they destroy the cells.
Signs of the disease appear in victims 10 to 15 days after they are bitten. People with malaria develop chills and experience pain in the head or muscles. If not treated, malaria can even cause death.
The new urine test kit is a product of Fyodor BioTechnology, an American company.
This is how the test works: The user collects urine in a small container. The person then puts a test stick in the liquid and leaves it there for 25 minutes. A one line reading on the stick means the person does not have malaria. Two lines is a sign of infection.
Ezzine Anyanwu lives in Nigeria. She likes the new test more than painful blood tests.
"I personally think that is revolutionary because being here and having a lot of family members that are not necessarily, they don’t necessarily take care of themselves well. So whenever anything is wrong, it's malaria. It doesn’t matter if it is some diet changes. Everything is malaria, and so they take medications.”
Malaria is spreading in many countries, including Nigeria. There are an estimated 425 million cases worldwide. The disease kills more than 400,000 people a year.
Fast detection of malaria is considered important for successful treatment.
"Malaria elimination in Nigeria is overdue,” said Victoria Enwenmadu of Fyodor Biotechnology. “A lot of countries have succeeded in eliminating malaria … and the Federal Ministry of Health is doing a lot of work to encourage proper care.”
Fyodor BioTechnology hopes to make the test available throughout Africa and Asia.
I’m Kathleen Struck.
Words in This Story
kit – n. a set of tools or supplies that a person uses for a particular purpose or activity
urine – n. waste liquid that collects in the bladder before leaving the body
mosquito – n. a small flying insect that bites the skin of people and animals and sucks their blood
chills – n. a cold feeling; a degree of cold that can be felt and that is usually unpleasant
elimination – n. the end of something
strip – n. a long, narrow piece of something