Malaria: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Malaria is a serious, life-threatening disease spread by Anopheles mosquitoes.

The illness presents with flu-like symptoms, including high fever and chills. Malaria can produce a wide variety of other associated symptoms and signs. Signs and symptoms can include muscle pain, fatigue, shivering, night sweats, rapid heart rate, nausea, mild jaundice, vomiting, and diarrhea. Complications can include severe anemia, enlargement of the liver and spleen, kidney failure, seizures, low blood sugar, and collapse of the circulatory system.

Causes of malaria

A parasite known as Plasmodium causes malaria. People typically get malaria from the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Plasmodium has different subspecies that cause varying severity of symptoms ranging from very mild to severe and life threatening. The parasites enter the body and ultimately destroy red blood cells (erythrocytes).

Other malaria symptoms and signs


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.