Malaria

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow

Quick GuideTravel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

Travel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

What causes malaria?

Parasites of the genus Plasmodium cause malaria. Although there are many species of Plasmodium, only five infect humans and cause malaria.

P. falciparum: found in tropical and subtropical areas; major contributor to deaths from severe malaria

P. vivax: found in Asia and Latin America; has a dormant stage that can cause relapses

P. ovale: found in Africa and the Pacific islands

P. malariae: worldwide; can cause a chronic infection

P. knowlesi: found throughout Southeast Asia; can rapidly progress from an uncomplicated case to a severe malaria infection

What are risk factors for malaria? Is it possible to prevent malaria?

The prevention of malaria includes several steps.

First, evaluate if malaria is a concern in the area of travel (CDC malaria information by country table). This table will also indicate which medication to take as chemo prophylaxis.

If chemo-prophylaxis is recommended, discuss the recommended medications with a health-care professional to determine if they are appropriate. Take into consideration any medical conditions, drug interactions with current medication taken on a continual basis, as well as side effects of the recommended medications.

No medication is 100% effective, and therefore the prevention of mosquito bites is of paramount importance. These preventive measures should include the following:

  • Sleeping under bed nets: These should cover all of the bed down to the floor. These nets are most effective if they are treated with an insecticide.
  • Clothing: Clothing that covers most of the exposed skin and shoes that are closed can reduce the risk of bites. All clothing should be tucked in, and pants should be tucked into socks to avoid exposure around the ankles. In addition, treating clothes with insecticides can prevent bites even further.
  • Apply insect repellent to all exposed skin.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/21/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Malaria - Symptoms

    What were your malaria symptoms and signs?

    Post View 18 Comments
  • Malaria - Causes

    How did you contract malaria?

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Malaria - Prognosis

    What was your malaria prognosis?

    Post
  • Malaria - Treatment

    What malaria treatments and medications did you receive?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors