DefinitionMalaria is a disease passed through the blood. It is typically passed to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito but can also be passed from mother to unborn child or during a blood transfusion from an infected donor.
CausesMalaria is caused by a specific type of parasite.Most often, a mosquito picks up the parasite when it bites someone with malaria. The mosquito can pass the parasite to a new person when it bites them. The parasite then travels to and multiplies in the liver.After several days, the new parasites leave the liver and pass into the bloodstream. The parasites infect the red blood cells and within 48 hours, the infected red blood cells burst. The parasites then go on to infect more red blood cells.
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Risk FactorsLiving in or traveling to hot, humid climates where Anopheles mosquitoes are common is the most common risk factor for malaria. Africa, Asia, and Latin America all have areas where malaria is common. Fatal cases have occurred in tourists visiting game parks and other rural areas in east Africa.Your chance of getting malaria increases dramatically if basic prevention step listed below are not followed.
SymptomsThere are no symptoms in the early stage of infection.Symptoms usually begin within 10 days to four weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms may include:
- Recurrent fevers—as high as 106° F (41.1° C)
- Chills and sweats
- Muscles aches
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Yellow coloring of the eyes and skin— jaundice
- Dark or discolored urine
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