Malaria: Causes & Symptoms

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Malaria is a serious public health threat that affects more than 200 million people around the world every year.

What is Malaria?

It is a terrible mosquito-borne infectious disease that manifests as high fever along with chills and sweating. It needs to be treated promptly, or it can prove to be fatal. A majority of the cases occur around the equator in tropical and subtropical regions, and it is a particularly dangerous disease in Africa. In fact, visitors to South American, African, Asian and Caribbean countries are strongly urged or even required to take anti-malarial medication before coming to the country, to prevent infection.

Causes

The disease is transferred through the Anopheles mosquito’s saliva when it bites you after it has been infected by various types of parasitic microorganisms. The parasites that affect humans are Plasmodium vivaxP. ovaleP. malariae, and P. falciparumThose parasites migrate to the liver and begin to reproduce, which is when the symptoms begin, about 10-15 days after the initial bite.

Other causes of malaria include:

  • An infected mother to her baby at birth (congenital malaria)
  • Organ transplant
  • Blood transfusion
  • Use of shared needles or syringes

Symptoms

Symptoms of malaria occurring when the infection comes from Plasmodium falciparum include:

This can often result in respiratory distress (25-40% of cases), encephalopathy, low blood sugar, shock, spontaneous bleeding, and even death. The remaining four species of Plasmodium capable of infecting humans generally cause mild symptoms of the illness.

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