Malaria: Diagnosis, Symptoms And Complications

September 13, 2019 Manpreet Yomed No Comments

India holds a rank fourth in the global incidence of the deadly mosquito-borne disease malaria in 2017, according to a report published in The Lancet journal.

Malaria is the leading cause of death worldwide. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent malaria but scientists are working on creating a one. 

What is Malaria?

Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, that is caused by parasites. It is a protozoan parasitic infection that is quite common in subtropical and tropical parts of the world. The parasite is entered into the blood through the bites of the female anopheles mosquito.  It is a life-threatening disease that is curable but, can be fatal if not diagnosed timely. A person affected by malaria shows flu-like symptoms that include high fever and chills. 

As soon as the parasites enter your body through an infected mosquito, they move into your liver. From there, they start multiplying. Then they attack your red blood cells, which serves as essential cells in your blood that carry oxygen. The parasites enter into these cells, lay their eggs, multiply until the red blood cell bursts. As a result, more the number of parasites increases inside your bloodstream. Last, you will start feeling very sick. 

Delay in diagnosis and treatment is the leading cause of death in malaria cases.

What are the Symptoms of Malaria and how is it Diagnosed?

The symptoms of malaria will start to show up 10-15 days after you have bitten by an infected mosquito. In some cases, it might not be even visible up to 25 days and can maximum take up to 30 days. 

Only a blood test can confirm malaria but some common signs and symptoms may indicate malaria. 

Health care Experts Classify Malaria into two Categories:

  • Uncomplicated malaria
  • Complicated malaria (severe).

Most common symptoms are:

  1. High fever and chills
  2. Seizures in young children
  3. Vomiting. 
  4. Headache. 
  5. Sweats.
  6. Nausea.
  7. Weakness.
  8. Fatigue
  9. Muscles pain.

Although, these signs are not specific as they can get confused with flu symptoms.

Complicated or Severe Malaria

It is caused by Plasmodium falciparum. The symptoms of severe malaria are:

Risk Factors of Severe Malaria

Young children and infants, elderly people, pregnant women and their unborn children are at a higher risk of severe malaria. 

What are the Other Complications of Malaria?

  1. Jaundice (yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes, dark urine, and itchiness.)
  2. Shock ( a sudden drop in blood pressure.
  3. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  4. Abnormally low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
  5. Swelling and Ruptured spleen

What Tests are Done to Diagnose Malaria?

Malaria Parasite Test

Malaria parasite confirmation identifies species & gives a percentage of parasitemia along with the percentage of gametocytes in the blood smear. There is no need to do special preparation before this test. 

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

If one is suffering from fever from 2-3 days persistently, then he should go for the Complete blood count. CBC gives information about white cells, red cells, and platelets. CBC helps in the diagnosis of anaemia, infections, and many other medical conditions.


Malaria Antigen Test


Malaria antigen test detects specific antigens (proteins) that are created by malaria parasites in the blood of a patient bitten by an infected mosquito.

How Long Malaria Takes for Recovery?

The cure for malaria may vary upon different factors including the severity of the disease and the particular species of Plasmodium infecting a person. It generally takes about two weeks to recover from malaria. However, in some individuals, relapses are possible. 

Is Malaria Contiguous?

Malaria can’t be transmitted through person to person, sexual transmission, casual contact and kissing. Malaria is not contiguous unless it got transmitted through the use of shared syringes and needles, which has contaminated blood. It is also communicable through organ transplant, blood transfusion, or to an unborn child from pregnant women affected with malaria.

In a nutshell, be aware of malaria and don’t ignore the common symptoms.

Besides, If any person has moved to a place where malaria is endemic (including parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America) and develops a headache, high fever, chills and experiencing common symptoms of malaria consequently. Then there is a dire need to seek immediate medical attention.


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