Symptoms and Diagnosis of Plasmodium

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Symptoms and Diagnosis of Plasmodium

Malaria is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite and transported by the Anopheles mosquito. Fever is the most common symptom of malaria. Other symptoms include arthralgia and vomiting. The most common diagnosis process for this disease is looking at the patient’s blood under a microscope. If microscopy is not available, antigen detection tests can be used.

In a year, there can be as many as five hundred million new cases of malaria, and of those five hundred million, 2.7 million die. That means, on average, a malaria-caused death happens once every twelve seconds. Malaria “threatens more than 40 percent of the world's population.” (“NIDCD,” 2002) So what exactly is malaria? What are its symptoms and how would someone diagnose this disease?

Malaria is a disease cause by a protozoan parasite. There are four species of these one-celled organisms that cause malaria in humans. They are known as Plasmodium; the most common is Plasmodium falciparum. To get inside our system, Anopheles mosquitoes are needed to transport this killer parasite.

Fig. 1 (“NIDCD” 2002)

Symptoms occur about ten to sixteen days after the mosquito bite. (“Malaria, 2002) Fever and classic flu symptoms begin. Symptoms sometimes follow a pattern of days where the attacks vanish and reoccur again. The period of time when the symptoms come and goes depends on the species of protozoa. For the parasites P. vivax and P. ovale, symptoms come and go for two days, and P. malariae has a three day period. Shivering occurs as well as head and muscle aches. The person infected becomes lethargic. Arthralgia and vomiting are other common symptoms of malaria. Because the parasite is invading and killing red blood cells, malaria can res...

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