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Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites (plasmodia malaria), which are transmitted from a patient to a healthy person through the bites of malaria mosquitoes. The disease is most common in countries with a tropical climate.

The disease begins with malaise, weakness, headache, pain in the muscles, joints, lower back, dry mouth, then a patient complaints of a sharp increase in temperature, vomiting, digestive upset, cough, disorders of the nervous and other body systems. The disease can result in death without timely treatment.

Current epidemic situation

Malaria is home to 2.4 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population.

Every year, 300-600 million people become infected with malaria, and according to the WHO, this figure is increasing by 16% annually. From 1.5 to 3 million people die each year from malaria (15 times more than from AIDS). Over the past decade, malaria came out on top among infectious diseases (after pneumonia and tuberculosis).

More than 100 countries, half of which are located in Africa, are malaria-deficient. Other foci of mass disease are India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Colombia.

The causative agent of malaria and its development

The source of the causative agent of malaria is a sick person or parasitic carrier. Mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles are the carrier. The body of mosquitoes that have drunk the blood of a sick person contains a large number of active malarial parasites. When an infected malaria mosquito bites a person, the parasites first enter the bloodstream and then into the cells of the human liver.

In humans, there are five forms of malaria caused by the corresponding type of malarial plasmodium.


At first, malaria may look like a cold. The following symptoms may appear in patients:

The first symptoms of malaria can appear as early as 6 days after the bite. In some cases, however, symptoms may develop one month after returning from the outbreak of malaria.

If complications develop, malaria can quickly move from cold-like symptoms to deadly ones. Complications may include acute renal failure, anemia, coma, low blood sugar, problems with breathing and spleen, low blood pressure, jaundice, and seizures.

A patient with malaria may first have mild symptoms, and then the condition may suddenly become seriously worse. This can be terrible pain, trouble breathing, or sudden seizures. If this happens, the patient needs emergency medical care.

After the first symptoms, some malaria parasites may remain in the liver and may cause relapse every few years. If you even have mild symptoms after returning from the focus of malaria, you must consult a doctor since malaria requires the right treatment.

Who is at increased risk for malaria infection?

About half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.

High-risk populations include:

Types of malaria

There are four forms of the disease: a three-day form, four-day malaria, ovale malaria, and tropical malaria.

All these forms have their own characteristics, but the general characteristics for each species are fever, anemia, and enlargement of the liver and spleen.

  1. Three-day malaria. Before the onset of the malaria attacks, a headache, weakness, nausea, and sharp back pain appear. The disease begins acutely. In the early days, the fever is wrong. After this, an intermittent-type fever occurs, with a constant alternation of malaria attacks every other day. A malaria attack is characterized by a pronounced change in the main stages of heat and chills, excessive sweating. The heat lasts about four to six hours, however, there are cases when the heat lasts up to twelve hours and is replaced by sharp sweating;
  2. Malaria ovale. This type of malaria is similar to three-day malaria, but the main difference is the milder course of ovale malaria in contrast to three-day malaria. Feverish attacks can occur every other day, and mainly in the evening. Relapses can be early and distant. The disease can last from three to four years;
  3. Four-day malaria. The spleen is enlarged moderately, in rare cases, anemia can develop. This form of the disease is characterized by a very low parasitemia, even at those moments when malaria is acute. Four-day malaria is characterized by a long course, from five to fifty years. During this time, plasmodia “live” in human blood, where a weak process of schizogony of an erythrocytic character proceeds;
  4. Tropical malaria. The incubation period can last at least a week, however, it can take up to two weeks. By the end of the incubation period, prodromal phenomena in the form of malaise and headache, fatigue begin. Vomiting and nausea, loss of appetite and chills may occur. An irregular type of fever occurs. Tropical malaria differs from other species: it does not have chills and increased sweating characteristic of malaria, pain in the joints and muscles is practically absent.


Malaria is diagnosed with a blood test. If you are bitten by a mosquito in the place where malaria is common and then you have a fever, you must consult a doctor who will conduct a blood test. Such an analysis will show if you have malaria in a few minutes (and even what kind of parasite caused it). The doctor will then conduct further tests to see if the disease has affected your internal organs (such as your kidneys or spleen).

If you have been diagnosed with malaria, your doctor will suggest a course of medication. Doctors will monitor your condition and course of the disease to prevent complications. Your doctor will advise you on how not to transfer malaria to other people, for example, not to donate blood.

One of the problems with diagnosing malaria is that it has very non-specific first symptoms. Anyone with a fever or chills may suggest that he has a simple cold. They would rather decide that they won’t go to the doctor. Even doctors may not immediately suspect malaria, especially in countries where the cases of this disease are quite rare.

It is easy to confuse malaria with another disease, which means patients may not receive timely treatment and spread malaria further. To help doctors, you should remember the symptoms of malaria. If you traveled to a country where malaria is a common thing and then you experienced a fever, immediately consult a doctor and tell him/her what country you have traveled to.


If you have been diagnosed with malaria, it is important to get the right therapy right away. Without treatment, the patient’s condition will quickly become worse. If complications develop, malaria can even lead to death. Children, the elderly and those who have serious illnesses have an increased risk of not managing malaria on their own.

Malaria parasites attack red blood cells, resulting in intense heat, which will be difficult to lower. Pregnant women also have a danger of not coping with the disease, which can lead to the birth of a child with low weight and other complications.

If you have been diagnosed with malaria, you will probably be prescribed one of the following medicines:

Therapy depends on your medical history, symptoms, and the type of malaria parasite you have. During pregnancy, some antimalarial drugs can not be taken at all.

A big problem in the treatment of malaria is that these parasites have become resistant to medications, so sometimes you have to change medications during treatment if they do not work or if your condition worsens. Doctors will definitely work on your treatment until they find the right medication.


There is no vaccine for this disease, although scientists are working on its invention. But scientists agree on one thing: to prevent malaria, mosquito bites should be avoided. To protect your family from malaria, you can do the following:

If you have done everything possible, but you have been bitten by a mosquito and after that you have colds-like symptoms, be sure to consult a doctor immediately. Without treatment, you can help spread the disease and your health can be seriously affected.