What Causes Malaria?

Malaria is caused by a group of parasites known as Plasmodium. These parasites are transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. There are several species of Plasmodium that can cause malaria, but the most common ones are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium ovale.

When an infected mosquito bites a person, it injects the malaria parasites into the bloodstream. The parasites then travel to the liver, where they mature and reproduce. After a period of development in the liver, the parasites re-enter the bloodstream and invade red blood cells, where they continue to multiply. This cycle of invasion, replication, and release of parasites into the bloodstream leads to the characteristic symptoms of malaria.

The symptoms of malaria can vary but commonly include fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, malaria can cause complications such as organ failure, anemia, and cerebral malaria, which can be life-threatening.

It’s important to note that malaria is not directly transmitted from person to person. It requires the involvement of mosquitoes as a vector for transmission. However, in rare cases, malaria can be transmitted through blood transfusions, organ transplantation, or from mother to unborn child during pregnancy (known as congenital malaria). These modes of transmission are less common compared to mosquito bites.

Preventing malaria involves measures such as using insecticide-treated bed nets, wearing protective clothing, applying mosquito repellents, and taking antimalarial medications if recommended for the area you are traveling to. Effective treatment for malaria includes antimalarial drugs that target the specific species of Plasmodium causing the infection.