Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is malaria?
- What are malaria symptoms and signs?
- How is malaria transmitted?
- Where is malaria a particular problem?
- What is the incubation period for malaria?
- How is malaria diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for malaria?
- Is malaria a particular problem during pregnancy?
- Is malaria a particular problem for children?
- How do people avoid getting malaria?
- What is the prognosis (outcome) for people with malaria?
- Where can people get more information about malaria?
- Malaria At A Glance
How is malaria transmitted?
The life cycle of the malaria parasite (Plasmodium) is complicated and involves two hosts, humans and Anopheles mosquitoes. The disease is transmitted to humans when an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a person and injects the malaria parasites (sporozoites) into the blood. This is shown in Figure 1, where the illustration shows a mosquito taking a blood meal (circle label 1 in Figure 1).
Sporozoites travel through the bloodstream to the liver, mature, and eventually infect the human red blood cells. While in red blood cells, the parasites again develop until a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected human and ingests human red blood cells containing the parasites. Then the parasites reach the Anopheles mosquito's stomach and eventually invade the mosquito salivary glands. When an Anopheles mosquito bites a human, these sporozoites complete and repeat the complex Plasmodium life cycle. P. ovale and P. vivax can further complicate the cycle by producing dormant stages (hypnozoites) that may not develop for weeks to years.
Where is malaria a particular problem?
Malaria is a particular problem and a major one in areas of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Unless precautions are taken, anyone living in or traveling to a country where malaria is present can get the disease. Malaria occurs in about 100 countries; approximately 40% of the world population is at risk for contracting malaria. To get information on countries that have current malaria infection problems, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has a constantly updated web site (http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/
country_table/a.html) that lists the problem areas in detail.
HIV (AIDS) and malaria co-infection is a significant problem across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Research suggests that malaria and HIV co-infection can lead to worse clinical outcomes in patients. It seems that co-infections enhance the disease process of both pathogens.
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