Malaria is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito. After the initial infection the malarial parasites move from the bloodstream to the liver. In the liver the sporozoites mature and eventually are released again into the bloodstream in order to infect more red blood cells. This cycle continues for approximately 48-72 hours during which more red blood cells are being infected. Symptoms initials occur after 10 days and can even appear as late as one month.
Symptoms of malaria are varied and can include anemia (low red blood cell count), muscle pain and discomfort, headache, sweating, nausea, chills, fever, vomiting, jaundice, bloody stools, convulsions, and coma. Other signs include an enlarged liver or spleen.
Malaria is a highly treatable disease, but often requires a hospital stay in order to treat. The drug Chloroquine is often used however there are many strains that are resistant. Other medications can be used in this case. Other medical care such a fluids and respiratory support are often used.
In most cases one can expect a good prognosis in the case of malaria infection. However, complications can occur in those who do not receive treatment or in those who receive treatment too late after the initial infection. These complications can include brain infection (cerebritis), destruction of blood cells, kidney failure, liver failure, meningitis, respiratory failure, ruptured spleen, and death.
World Health Organization. (2011, December). Malaria. Retrieved April 2, 2012,from World Health Organization:http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/