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Embracing Humanity Worldwide

Our Mission is to facilitate the development and implementation of solutions to the health, economic, and social problems caused by malaria.

 

FAQ's: What Causes Malaria?
  • Malaria is caused by four species of parasitic protozoa that infect human red blood cells. Protozoa are one-celled organisms that are as sophisticated as a human cell. Malaria parasites feed on red blood cells for a living but .
    • Plasmodium falciparum
    • Plasmodium vivax
    • Plasmodium malariae
    • Plasmodium ovale
  • Malaria parasites have a complex life cycle. In order to live, they need to have both a human and a mosquito host.
  • The mosquito host can't be just "any" mosquito. It has to be a mosquito of the genus Anopheles.
  • The mosquito picks up the malaria parasites from the blood of an infected human when it feeds.
  • The malaria parasite reproduces itself in the gut of the Anopheles mosquito. The malaria parasites need the mosquito to continue their life cycle. Then, the mosquito passes the malaria parasites to the human through its salivary glands.
  • The four different species of malaria parasites cause types of malaria that are somewhat different from each other.
  • The worst type is caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Infection with Plasmodium falciparum kills approximately 1-2% of those who come down with it. Falciparum malaria is a serious illness characterized by fever, headache, and weakness.
  • Complications of falciparum malaria include cerebral malaria, in which the brain is infected, severe malaria, in which the parasitic infection essentially "runs out of control," and placental malaria, in which falciparum is a grave complication of pregnancy, and coma. Each of these complications is very serious and often fatal.
  • Falciparum malaria is the major type found in subSaharan Africa, where 90% of the world's malaria cases occur.
  • Unfortunately, falciparum malaria is also frequently resistant to drugs and is becoming more common in high elevation areas of Africa, and in portions of Asia.
  • The other species of malaria cause a debilitating illness characterized by spells of chills, fever and weakness. This illness generally lasts 10-14 days, and is self-limiting in nature. The malaria caused by these species is rarely fatal.
  • Malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium malariae can relapse [come back] if it is not properly treated with medicine.
  • Unfortunately, in places where Plasmodium vivax has become more common, such as India, the more dangerous Plasmodium falciparum hasn't been far behind.

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Malaria Foundation International
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