Malaria is an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Worldwide, about 300 million to 500 million people get malaria each year, including about 1,000 people in the United States-all but a handful of whom contract the disease abroad. Almost all tropical and subtropical countries have malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.

Early symptoms of malaria include headache, fatigue, low-grade fever, and nausea. Within about 24 hours, the illness frequently progresses into three distinct stages. First comes the cold stage, characterized by sudden chills and, some-limes, violent shaking, which lasts one to two hours. The second, or hot, stage is marked by a fever, which can go as high as 107°F, at times accompanied by rapid breathing; this lasts three to four hours. The wet stage follows: two to four hours of profuse sweating. Also check: Generally you need to know about Malaria


Malaria is caused by a bite from the female Anopheles mosquito, which injects the malaria parasites into the bloodstream. Four species of a parasite known as Plasmodium cause malaria in humans: P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. Falciparum. Once in the bloodstream, the plasmodia travel to the liver, where they multiply at a tremendous rate. Within a week or so, up to 40,000 of them flow back into the bloodstream, where they continue to multiply and begin to destroy red blood cells. It is this destruction that causes the characteristic symptoms of malaria. Know the History of Malaria.

Although all four species can be deadly, P. Falciparum is particularly dangerous-and more likely to be fatal-because it multiplies much more quickly than the others, destroying many more blood cells. This species is also more resistant to anti-malarial drugs.

Forms of both the P. vivax and P. ovale parasites can remain dormant in the liver without creating any apparent symptoms of malaria for months or, in rare cases, years. Then one day, for reasons as yet unknown to scientists, they leave the liver and return to the bloodstream, causing a malaria attack. So if you have at any time traveled to a part of the world where malaria is prevalent, be sure to report that fact to your doctor if you develop an unexplained illness with a fever.

Diagnostic and Test Procedures

If your doctor suspects that you have malaria, a sample of your blood will be examined for evidence of the parasites. If the first smear is negative but malaria is strongly suspected, samples may be taken and examined every 1 2 to 24 hours for three consecutive days.


Left untreated, P. falciparum malaria can be fatal. Quick and appropriate conventional treatment, however, can result in a speedy and complete recovery. Other forms of malaria rarely cause death but still require treatment to avoid complications and ease recovery. See more: Malaria Treatment

Conventional Medicine

If you are infected with P. vivax, P. ovale, or P. malariae, you will receive chloroquine orally for three days. To help avoid later recurrences caused by dormant P. vivax or P. ovale parasites, you will also be given oral doses of primaquine for 14 more days. Because primaquine can destroy red blood cells and thus threaten the health of a fetus, it is not given to pregnant women; if you are pregnant, you will be kept on chloroquine.

If you became infected with P. falciparum in an area of the world where it has not been shown resistant to chloroquine, you will be treated with that drug. Otherwise, you will be given oral doses of either quinine and tetracycline, or quinine and a combination product of pyrimethamine and sulfadoxine for several days. If you are vomiting or have serious medical complications, you may be given intravenous quinidine until you are well enough to take the other drugs.

Check: History of Treatment and Prophylaxis of Malaria

Alternative Choices

Alternative therapies can treat the symptoms of malaria and help your body recover from anti-malarial medications, which can cause unpleasant, although temporary, side effects, such as nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, tinnitus, and skin rashes. All remedies should be taken in conjunction with conventional medications and under professional supervision.

Herbal Therapies

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), sometimes called feverwort, was used by Native Americans and early American colonists to treat feverish ill-nesses, including malaria. Make a tea, using 1 to 2 tsp of the dried herb; drink it as hot as possible and as often as every half hour.


Remedies prescribed for malaria include Arsenicum album and Sulphur. Consult a homeopath for dosages and length of treatment.


If you are going to an area where malaria exists, tell your doctor several weeks before you leave. Your doctor will put you on a regimen of

Call Your Doctor If :

you experience the symptoms of malaria while in an area of the world where malaria is transmitted or up to several months after returning.

you will be traveling to an area where malaria is common; your doctor can prescribe a preventive anti-malarial medication.

Further Reading :

CDC Website:
Malaria Foundation Website:
Malaria FAQs:

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