A World Traveler’s Guide to Malaria

May 7, 2012, 8:01 a.m.

Malaria is described as an infectious disease that mosquitoes carry and transmit to humans and even other animals. The disease is caused by eukaryotic protists that comes from the Plasmodium genus. The disease then comes up from the multiplication of the parasites that attack the red blood cells. Symptoms then begin appearing in the affected person which include headache and fever. In some sever cases is also causes coma or even death. It is the most common, and easiest spread in sub tropic and tropical regions that include America, Sub Saharan Africa, and Asia. On estimation there are around 225 million cases worldwide, and an estimated 781,000 people passed away from this disease according to the World Health Organization. This accounts for around 2.23% of deaths throughout the world. 90 percent of these deaths occur in the sub Saharan Africa, the majority of these deaths are of young children and Plasmodium falciparum is the cause, and is the most severe form of the disease known. Malaria is the most common when it comes to poverty.

Life Cycle

The life cycle that a Plasmodium goes through is a complicated cycle and it involves two different hosts, Anopheles mosquitoes and humans. The disease is sent from the Anopheles mosquito to the human host when the mosquito bites the human and injects the parasites that it is carrying that hold the malaria disease within the human’s blood. These parasites then travel through the blood stream until they reach the liver, mature in the liver, and then continue to circulate throughout the red blood cells of the human body. When a mosquito then gets a blood meal from an infected human, the cycle restarts itself, and the mosquito will then infect others in the process. There are also dormant stages that develop over weeks and even years which complicates the process and means it is hard to completely rid the area of the disease.

  • Malaria: In depth look into the signs and symptoms, life cycle, and treatment of malaria.

  • Malaria Causes: Information on the causes, and life cycle of the disease when it is transmitted from the mosquito to the human.

  • Malaria: Learn more about how the disease progresses in the human body from the mosquito with this interactive show and game.

  • The Biology of Malaria: Learn the background, biology, and make up of the malaria parasites.

  • Life Cycle of Malaria: Explanation and graph of malaria and the life cycle that it goes through in order to infect its hosts.

  • Malaria: More information about malaria and the life cycle that malaria must go through in order to infect humans


The symptoms that are shown in those that are infected with malaria include, but are not limited to: shivering, fever, joint pain, anemia, vomiting, retinol damage, hemoglobinuria, and convulsions. One of the most seen symptom of malaria is cyclical occurance of a sudden onset of coldness that is then followed with rigor and then sweating a fever. This can last from four to six hours, and occurs every two days. There is normally a recurrent fever every 2 days, or a smaller fever that is constant. This has to do with pressure in the cranium. Children often show poor or abnormal posturing. This is a sign that indicates severe brain damage. It can cause anemia and rapid brain development, as well as direct brain damage to the infected. Children are more vulnerable to getting cerebral malaria. With this type of malaria, there is also retinol whitening.

Severe malaria is also a problem, and it is caused by a Plasmodium falciparum infection. It comes about in around 6 to 14 days after a person is infected with the disease. When severe malaria comes about the consequences can be coma or death if left untreated. Pregnant women and young children are the most vulnerable to this. The symptoms include an enlarged spleen, cerebral ischemia, severe headaches, enlarged liver, hemoglobinuria with renal failure, and hypoglycemia. Severe malaria progresses rapidly and can cause death within hours or days. Fatality rates go up and can exceed 20 percent or more even if the infected person goes through intensive care and treatment for the disease. The fatality rate for malaria can be increased to as high as one in ten.

  • Malaria: The causes, conditions, and symptoms of malaria and how it affects the infected person.

  • Malaria Causes: Different causes of malaria, and the symptoms that come along with the disease.

  • Dept of Health on Malaria:Find out who gets malaria, how fast the symptoms spread, what the symptoms are and so much more to protect yourself against the disease.

  • Symptoms of Malaria:The many different symptoms that come along with being infected with malaria.

  • Malaria: Overview: diagnosing information, symptoms, and a lot of other information to inform the reader about the disease and how devistating it can be.

  • Malaria Symptoms: Symptoms of malaria, and how it can affect the diseased person.


The most common way to diagnose malaria is by microscopic examination of the blood cells by using blood films. Saliva and urine can also be used as an alternative, but normally it is just blood. It is also a less invasive way to check for malaria. Modern technology has also brought about testing for the disease with polymerase chain reaction. This is not a widely used method however since it is an expensive procedure that a lot of areas cannot afford. A lot of times the doctors have to make sure to test and treat malaria only if they know it is malaria. It is sometimes dengue if there is not a headache present.

Prevention and Treatment


There are vaccines or immunizations that can be given to prevent the spread of malaria. Preventing any and all mosquito bites from happening beforehand is one of the biggest ways to prevent malaria from happening. There is also a chance that the person getting the vaccine will build a resistance to it. The type of places that have malaria are high in mosquitoes and high in humans. Reducing one or the other can greatly reduce the risk of the spread of malaria. Unless the parasite is totally eliminated from the world, the disease is going to continue to spread. A lot of the countries that have widespread epidemics of malaria are in poverty, and the costs of vaccines are too much for the country to afford so the disease will spread.

Vector control is one of the ways that prevent malaria from happening. This is to reduce or eliminate the amount of mosquitoes in the area, and sterilize the rest of them in the process. This will reduce the risk of the parasite from spreading from one mosquito to the next and then spreading to humans in the area as well. This is an expensive method, however and a lot of countries have yet to use it until they are able to obtain the funds.

Indoor residual spraying is also used. It is when insecticide is sprayed in the areas where there are break outs of malaria. This is not one of the most recommended ways since it can also do harm to those people living in the area. Using the insecticides however, will rid the area of the disease and the mosquitoes and in hopes of making sure that they do not migrate back to the same area to start the spread of malaria again. This is also not a widely used practice because the mosquitoes are showing resistance to the insecticides that are being used.

Bedclothes and mosquito nets are effective without harming anyone, but not cutting down on the amount of mosquitoes in the area. The nets are often treated with an insecticide to keep the mosquitoes away from people while they sleep, and having people cover themselves while they sleep is also important so the mosquitoes cannot get to the skin. The nets offer 70 percent more protection compared to not using a net. These mosquitoes prefer to feed at night which means they have extra protection.

Educating people about the symptoms and preventing the onset of malaria is something that can prevent it from happening. Explaining the importance of protecting against mosquito bites can prevent a lot of malaria cases.


A complete recovery is possible with the proper treatment early enough. The treatment that a person receives when they have malaria depends on the severity of the disease. Oral drugs are given to those with uncomplicated malaria. The use of artemisinins, as well as other antimalarials are given in order to avoid any risks of drug resistance against the therapies with artemisinin. Severe malaria cases have to be treated with parenteral administration of the antimalarial drugs. The treatment used to be quinine, but artesunate is now being used because it shows better affects on treating malaria in children and adults. Infection of the malaria virus is treated with as an outpatient procedure. They treat all blood stages, and treat liver forms with primaquine.


There are drugs that can be taken to prevent malaria, not only treat it. Chloroquine can be used when the parasite for malaria is still sensitive. The mosquitoes have built up a resistance to some of the drugs previously used such as mefloquine or Lariam, doxycycline, and atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride or malarone. These seem to have high resistances, but can still be used in case others are not being effective. A lot of times when visiting the high malaria areas, the drugs are taken two weeks prior to visiting. This is because the drugs are not immediate and need time to get into the system. They have to then continue to take the drug up to 4 weeks after leaving the area. They can be taken daily or weekly depending on the dosage amount. The use of these drugs is not done in those that live in the areas. They are normally given to those visiting the area for a short time. The cost is high for the drugs, and there are negative side effects that come from taken the drugs on a long term basis. This means a lot of residents cannot continue to take the drug when they have to take it for the length of living in the area.

What is Malaria?: Look into facts, information pamphlets, and treatment/medication alternatives while visiting a high malaria area.

Malaria: Explains malaria, and comes complete with treatment guidelines that are periodically updated.

Malaria Overview: Information on treatment, prevention, medications, and facts on malaria in certain regions and what you can do to help.

Malaria Facts: Learn more about the medications, prevention, and treatment of malaria.

Prevention of Malaria: Learn more about the drugs that are used to prevent malaria while visiting.

The Use of Antimalarial Drugs: A lot of links to learn more about the drugs used to prevent malaria, and if they are worth taken.

Antimalarial Drugs for the Prevention of Malaria: Detailed information, studies, and finds on the drugs that are used for preventing malaria.




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