Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite. The parasite is typically transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito, though blood transfusions from an infected person can also rarely be a source. People who have malaria usually feel very sick, with a high fever and shaking chills. Each year, approximately 210 million people are infected with malaria, and about 440,000 people die from the disease. Most of the people who die from the disease are young children in Africa. World health officials are trying to reduce the incidence of malaria by distributing bed nets to help protect people from mosquito bites as they sleep. Scientists around the world are working to develop a vaccine to prevent malaria.



Five types of parasites cause malaria: plasmodium falciparum (or p. falciparum); plasmodium malariae (or p. malariae); plasmodium vivax (or p. vivax); plasmodium ovale (or p. ovale); plasmodium knowlesi (or p. knowlesi)


A person infected with malaria will experience some or all of the following Symptoms: recurrent fevers; chills; diffuse muscles aches, headaches; nausea and/or vomiting;  diarrhea ; anemia; jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin or eyes):

Symptoms usually begin within 10 days to four weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, P. malariae may not produce symptoms for a year or more. P. falciparum infections tend to cause more severe symptoms and are associated with higher death rates.


Malaria is caused by one of the following four types of parasites: Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax ; Plasmodium ovale; Plasmodium malariae. When a female Anopheles mosquito bites someone infected with malaria, the mosquito becomes infected with the parasite. After a two-week period during which the parasite undergoes transformation and multiplication within the mosquito’s body, another bite will transfer malaria into a new person's bloodstream. Once inside the human bloodstream, parasites travel to the liver and multiply (hepatic phase). During this phase the infected person has no symptoms. After several days the parasites' offspring are released into the bloodstream, where they infect red blood cells. Within 48 hours, the infected red blood cells burst and the parasites infect more red blood cells. This process leads to chills, fever, and other symptoms that are typical of malaria. Without treatment, the cycle of red blood cell destruction and fever will continue and may lead to death. Plasmodium falciparum is by far the most dangerous of the forms of malaria and, unfortunately, in most areas it is also the most common. Malaria can also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn child or from a transfusion of blood from an infected donor.


Diagnosis is based on symptoms, medical history, and travel history, and a blood test to analyze for parasites.


Malaria is treated with prescription drugs to kill the parasites. The choice of antimalarial agent depends on the type of parasite, and the severity and stage of infection. It is important to consult health practitioners when malaria is suspected.


There is no vaccine yet. To reduce the chance of getting malaria when in an area where malaria is prevalent: consult health professionals for antimalaria medication prior to, during, and after travel; follow health professionals instructions and take medication exactly as prescribed; use insect repellent when outside; use proper mosquito netting at night; wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible; avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn, when Anopheline mosquitoes are especially prevalent.

Scientists around the world are trying to develop a safe and effective vaccine for malaria. As of yet, however, there is still no malaria vaccine approved for human use


Malaria is a serious illness that can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly. Pregnant women, babies, young children and the elderly are particularly at risk.

The Plasmodium falciparum parasite causes the most severe malaria symptoms and most deaths.

As complications of severe malaria can occur within hours or days of the first symptoms, it's important to seek urgent medical help as soon as possible.

Common complications of plasmodium falciparum malaria are anaemia and or cerebral malaria. Other complications that can arise as a result of severe malaria include: liver failure and jaundice – yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes; shock – a sudden drop in blood pressure; pulmonary oedema – a build-up of fluid in the lungs; acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); abnormally low blood sugar – hypoglycaemia; kidney failure; swelling and rupturing of the spleen; dehydration.

Pregnant women with malaria have an increased risk of developing serious complications, such as premature birth – birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy; low birth weight; restricted growth of the baby in the womb; stillbirth; miscarriage; death of the mother.


Risk factors of malaria are : living in or traveling to hot, humid climates where anopheles mosquitoes are prevalent ; failing to use  insect repellants when outdoors; failing to use mosquito netting (especially netting treated with permethrin) while sleeping; failing to use medications to prevent malaria infection


In general, it takes about two weeks of treatment to be cured of malaria. However, in some individuals, relapses are possible. The time period from initial parasite infection to the appearance of symptoms varies according to the particular species of Plasmodium that infects an individual.

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