Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
What is the prognosis (outcome) for people with malaria?
The majority of people who become infected with P. malariae, vivax, or ovale do well and the fevers abate after about 96 hours. However, in endemic areas, reinfection is common. Malaria caused by
P. falciparum or P. knowlesi, even when treated, have outcomes ranging from fair to poor, depending on how the parasites react to treatment. Untreated people often die from these infections. In general, patients
who are infants, children under the age of 5 (especially in sub-Saharan countries), and those with depressed immune systems (for
example, AIDS or cancer patients) have a more guarded prognosis.
Where can people get more information about malaria?
Malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium spp. parasites that infects about 400 million people per year with about 2 million deaths.
Symptoms include recurrent cycles (every one to three days) of fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches; nausea, vomiting, and jaundice also may occur.
Anopheles mosquitoes transmit the parasites to humans when they bite. The parasites undergo a complicated life cycle in both mosquitoes and humans; the cycle begins again when the mosquitoes take a blood meal from a human that is contaminated with mature parasites.
Africa, Asia, and Central and South America are the areas with high numbers of malarial infections.
The incubation period for malaria symptoms is about one to three weeks but may be extended to
eight to 10 months after the initial infected mosquito bites occur. Some people may have dormant parasites that may get reactivated years after the initial infection.
Malaria is diagnosed by the patient's history of recurrent symptoms and the identification of the parasites in the patient's blood, usually by a Giemsa blood smear.
Malaria is usually treated by using combinations of two or more anti-parasite drugs incorporated into pills that are taken before exposure (prophylactic or preventative therapy) or during infection. More serious infections are treated by IV anti-parasitic drugs in the hospital.
Infants, children, and pregnant females, along with immunodepressed patients are at higher risk for worse outcomes when infected with malaria parasites.
To reduce the chance of getting malaria, people should avoid malaria-endemic areas of the world, use mosquito
repellents, cover exposed skin, and use mosquito netting covered areas when sleeping.
The prognosis for the majority of malaria patients is good; most recover with no problems, unless infected with
P. falciparum or P. knowlesi, which may have fair to poor outcomes unless treated immediately. Infants, children under 5 years of
age, pregnant females, and those with depressed immune systems frequently have a fair to poor prognosis unless effectively treated early in the infection.
D'Acremont, V., C. Lengeler, and B. Genton. "Reduction in the Proportion of Fevers Associated With Plasmodium falciparum Parasitaemia in Africa: A Systematic Review." Malaria Journal 9.240 Aug. 22, 2010 doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-240.
Rottmann, M., C. McNamara, B. Yeung, et al. "Spiroindolones, a Potent Compound Class for the Treatment of Malaria." Science 329 (2010): 1175-1180.