Malaria is an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes that usually produces high fever and chills.
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. Five species may infect humans:
Malaria is transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito of the Anopheles genus.
Malaria is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Central America and the Amazon region.
The disease may affect anyone, but some groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria, such as children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and patients with chronic diseases.
People in areas with intense malaria transmission can develop some type of immunity that provide protection against the infection. On the other hand, people who visit occasionally these areas are at a higher risk of infection.
Patients infected with malaria typically begin to develop the symptoms following a 10- to 15-day incubation period post-exposure.
The main symptoms are:
The most important complications of malaria are:
The best way to diagnose malaria involves the visualization of the parasites in a blood sample. For this matter, there are some screening tests available:
The recommended treatment for malaria depends on the species of parasite that had caused the disease, the drug resistance, the geographic region and the severity of the disease.
The most used antimalarial drugs are:
Prevention and control measures designed to halt the spread of malaria include:
Persons travelling to endemic areas should ask their doctor if it is necessary prophylaxis (measures to prevent infection) before the journey. Prophylaxis may include medication to reduce the risk of malaria for short-term travelers.