A six-year-old Burundian boy, known for his comic stand-up routines on YouTube and in local theatres, has died of malaria. His manager Darcy Irakoze, better known by his stage name “Kacaman”, tested positive for malaria on Wednesday at a clinic near his home in central Gitega province.
“He was given malaria medication and returned home, only to go back to the clinic yesterday critically ill,” the manager said.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. When this mosquito bites you, the parasite is released into your bloodstream.
Once the parasites are inside your body, they travel to the liver, where they mature. After several days, the mature parasites enter the bloodstream and begin to infect red blood cells.
Within 48 to 72 hours, the parasites inside the red blood cells multiply, causing the infected cells to burst open. The parasites continue to infect red blood cells, resulting in symptoms that occur in cycles that last two to three days at a time.
Malaria is typically found in tropical and subtropical climates where the parasites can live. The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source states that, in 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries.
Kacaman’s last performance was with Kigingi, a comedy icon in Burundi, in Gitega last Friday. Kigingi said that the young comedian’s death was a great loss personally and for Burundi’s entertainment industry.
The death of the young star has also focused attention on the high number of malaria cases in the country this year. The WHO says it has reached epidemic proportions, with more than five million cases and more than 1,800 deaths in the first six months of the year.
But the government says the UN is being alarmist, quotes slightly lower figures and says they compare favorably to previous years. Malaria is spread when female mosquitoes bite humans, with symptoms including cycles of feeling cold and shivering followed by high temperature with severe sweating. Without treatment, the parasite can lead to breathing problems and organ failure.