International Global Health Blog

Malaria Facts

International Global Health

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Malaria breeds mostly in warmer climates, where there is an abundance of humidity and rain.

Malaria is not a contagious disease; it cannot be contracted through contact with an infected person, sexually or otherwise.



Human malaria is caused by four species of plasmodium parasites such as P.falciparum, P.malariae, P.ovale and P.vivax. Humans occasionally become infected with plasmodium species that normally infect animals such as P.knowlesi.

However there are two of them are considered the most dangerous:

  1. P.falciparum – the most common malaria parasite in Africa. This species multiplies very quickly – causing severe blood loss and clogged blood vessels
  2. P.vivax – most commonly found outside of sub-Saharan Africa especially in Asia. This species can lie dormant – rise up to infect your blood months of years after the mosquito bite



Malaria signs and symptoms typically begin within a few weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

A malaria infection is generally characterized by recurrent attacks with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Moderate to severe shaking chills
  • High fever
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea



To diagnose malaria disease mostly can do alternate methods for laboratory diagnosis include antigen detection using:

  1. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDT – Antigen test) – as a alternative where reliable microscopic diagnosis is not available.
  2. Molecular diagnosis that known more accurate than microscopic but also more expensive and requiring a specialized laboratory
  3. Serology (Antibody test) – by using indirect immune - fluorescence (IFA) or enzyme-linked immune-sorbent assay (ELISA) – serology test measures past malaria experience.


Early and accurate diagnosis of malaria is essential for both rapid and effective disease management and surveillance. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission. The best available treatment particularly for P. falciparum malaria is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).The following blood test such as blood culture, hemoglobin concentration, platelet count and Intravenous drip - electrolyte concentrations (especially sodium)




Researchers are working to create a vaccine against malaria. Vaccination is expected to become an important tool to prevent malaria in the future


Anti-malarial treatment policies vary between countries and depend on the epidemiology of the disease, transmission and patterns of drug resistance. Anti malarial can also measure to control symptoms including medications to control fever, anti-seizure medications when needed, fluids and electrolytes.


The type of medications that are used to treat malaria depends on the severity of the disease and the likelihood of chloroquine resistance. 

The types of drugs and the length of treatment will vary, depending on which type of malaria parasite you have - the severity of your symptoms - your age and whether you`re pregnant or not


The most common medication for anti-malarial include:

  • Chloroquine (Aralen)
  • Quinine sulfate (Qualaquin)
  • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
  • Mefloquine
  • Combination of atovaquone and proguanil (Malarone)


The history of anti-malarial medicine has been marked by a constant struggle between evolving drug-resistant parasites and the search for new drug formulations. In many parts of the world, for instance, resistance to chloroquine has rendered the drug ineffective

Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has given the seal of approval to tafenoquine; a drug that can flush the parasite out of its hiding place in the liver and stop people getting it again.

It can be taken alongside another medicine to treat the immediate infection. There is already a medication that can be used to get rid of malaria hiding in the liver called primaquine.

But unlike the single dose of tafenoquine needed, primaquine often needs to be taken for 14 days.

Some experts are concerned that many people feel better after just a few days and stop taking the pills, allowing the parasite to awaken at a later date



Travelers coming from areas without malaria often have no immunity and are very vulnerable to the illness.

If you`re traveling to locations where malaria is common, take preventive medicine before, during and after your trip. Many malaria parasites are now immune to the most common drugs used to treat the disease. See your doctor before you travel to a tropical country where malaria is common


Prevention tips can also involves keeping mosquitoes away from humans. The strategies to mosquito control are include sleeping under a mosquito nets or bed nets - wear clothing that covers most of your skin – use insect repellent contains DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide).



World Health Organization

Web MD

European Center for Disease Prevention and Control


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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