Heyneman, Donald Health and Medical Sciences Program, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Last reviewed:April 2019
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- Infective agent
- Life cycle
- Clinical malaria
- Eradication efforts
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A disease caused by members of the protozoan genus Plasmodium (a widespread group of protists that parasitize the human liver and red blood cells) and transmitted by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Malaria is a serious mosquito-borne disease caused by parasitic members of the genus Plasmodium. The condition should be treated as a medical emergency because of its ability to cause severe illness and death. The disease is characterized by periodic chills, fever, and sweats, often leading to severe anemia [resulting from lysis of red blood cells (erythrocytes)], an enlarged spleen, hemoglobinuria (hemoglobin in the urine), and other complications (for example, cerebral malaria involving the brain) that may result in loss of life, especially among infants (whose deaths are predominantly attributed to the malaria caused by P. falciparum). The infective Plasmodium agents are inoculated into the human bloodstream by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito (Fig. 1); about 30–40 species can carry the infection to humans. The incubation period varies, ranging from 7 to 30 days before signs and symptoms of disease begin. See also: Diptera; Economic entomology; Haemosporina; Medical parasitology; Mosquito: vector of disease; Zoonoses
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