Malaria: symptoms and treatment

Malaria: symptoms and treatment


Malaria is the most important parasitic disease of humans, causing hundreds of millions of illness and probably over a million death each year.
It is a serious disease caused by a plasmodium parasite, the vector of malaria is  certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers shacking chills and flu-like illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

About 1700 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the USA each year. The vast majority of cases in the USA are in travelers and immigrants from countries where malaria transmission occurs many from sub- Saharan Africa and South Africa (CDC)

Causative agent
Plasmodium falciparum 
Plasmodium malariae
Plasmodium vivax
Plasmodium ovale

Life cycle of malaria parasite

Life cycle of malaria parasite : asexual cycle occurring in the human and sexual or sporogony cycle occurring in anopheles mosquito

  • Infected mosquito bites a human 
  • parasite rapidly goes to the liver within 30 minutes 
  • the parasite start reproducing rapidly in liver some parasite lie dormant in the liver and become activated years after after initial infection.
  • gets into the blood stream attaches and enters red blood cells , further reproduction occurs 
  • infected red blood cells burst, infecting others
  • this repeating cycle depletes the body of oxygen and also causes fever. the cycle coincides with malaria’s fever and chills
  • after release, a dormant version of malaria travels through the host’s blood stream waiting to be ingested by another mosquito to carry it to another host

Symptoms of uncomplicated malaria

Symptoms of complicated malaria

  • extreme weakness
  • impaired consciousness
  • change of behavior ( hallucination, delusions, agitation and acute state of comma)
  • respiratory distress
  • bleeding tendency
  • circulatory collapse
  • vomiting everything

Indication of antimalarial drugs

The indication of anti malarial drugs depends on the stage of disease and are classified as follows

  • drugs that eliminate developing or dormant liver forms of malaria parasite are called tissue schizonticides 
  • those that act on erythocytic stage of malaria are blood schizonticides
  • those that kill sexual stages of malaria parasites and prevent transmission to mosquitoes are called gametocides
  • no one available agent can reliably affect a radical cure; that is eliminate both hepatic and erythrocytic stages of malaria parasite
  • few available agents are casual prophylactic drugs that is capable of preventing erythrocytic malaria infection.


  • Is a rapidly acting, highly effective blood schizonticide against the four species of human malaria parasites
  • the drug is gametocidal against p. vivax and p. ovale but not p. falciparum
  • it is not active against liver stage parasites 
  • the mechanism of action of quinine is unknown


  • the most important of these analogs are Artesunate and Artemether
  • are very acting blood schizonticides against all human malaria parasites
  • Artemisinin have no effect on the liver stage of malaria parasite 
  • Artemisinin in particular Artesunate and Artemether are playing increasingly important role in the treatment of multi-drug resistance p.falciparum malaria
  • they are only drugs reliably effective against quinine resistant strains 


  • Is an aryl of alcohol related to halofantrine, is available as a fixed dose combination with artemether as coartem in some countries
  • coartem is highly effective in the treatment of falciparum malaria

Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy ( IPTp)  with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine.



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