Malaria is a parasitic disease caused by plasmodium that enters the human bloodstream by a mosquito bite. Plasmodium has different species, based on which different types of malaria are identified. Malaria is endemic in temperate regions of the world.
Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium transmitted by the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. Different species of plasmodium are:
The different morphology of their cells identifies the different types.
Types of malaria are classified according to the kind of plasmodium causing it. Different types are:
Amongst them, malaria caused by P. falciparum is the most severe form. It is resistant to traditional antimalarial therapy, and if left untreated, it can cause death. It can affect RBCs of all ages, whereas P. vivax and ovale only affect RBCs of the young generation.
Malarial parasites are transmitted into the blood of humans by mosquito bites. After entering the bloodstream, they travel to liver cells and remain there for a few weeks. After maturation in the liver cells, they enter the bloodstream again and attack red blood cells. Further development takes place inside red blood cells. After they have fully developed, they cause red blood cells to rupture, resulting in fever and other clinical symptoms. The cycle is repeated, and the parasite grows inside the human body exponentially.
Other forms of transmission include blood transfusion and maternal to fetal information.
The risk factors for malaria are:
According to WHO, malaria is responsible for around 1-3 million deaths per year, most of which occur in Africa in children caused by falciparum malaria. Co-infection with malaria and HIV is also a problem in these countries. Young children are at an increased risk of death due to malaria.
The incubation period for malaria is a few weeks after the infection. The common symptoms are:
Complications due to falciparum malaria include:
Differential diagnoses for malaria include:
Most forms of malaria are benign and carry a good prognosis. They are highly responsive to antimalarial therapy, and outcomes improve within 48 hours of initiation of treatment. The mortality rate associated with falciparum infection is the highest. But if adequate treatment is started timely, the prognosis for even this form of malaria is also good.
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 25, 2023.
Microorganisms | Free Full-Text | Malaria: The Past and the Present (mdpi.com)