Malaria is a potentially deadly disease caused
by infection with the microscopic parasite Plasmodium. Plasmodium is transmitted to humans through bites from Anopheles mosquitoes infected with the parasite. According
to the World Health Organization, malaria is present in more than 100 countries—mostly
in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Each year there are roughly 300
million cases of malaria, and more than 1 million people die of the disease.
Children and pregnant women are especially at risk for malaria. The March
23/30, 2005, issue of JAMA includes an article about
malaria. This Patient Page is adapted from one originally published in the
June 2, 2004, issue.
Symptoms usually appear about 9 to 14 days after being bitten by an
Sudden, violent chills
Malaria is best diagnosed by using a microscope to identify the Plasmodium parasites in a blood sample.
Malaria is treated with drugs that interfere with the parasite's
lifecycle or metabolism.
If you think you have malaria, seek medical treatment immediately.
Prevention is based on avoiding exposure to mosquitoes and aggressively
treating people who are infected. Malaria control programs in many parts of
the world are underfunded and ineffective. If you are traveling to an area
where malaria is common, take antimalarial drugs exactly as prescribed by
your physician and prevent mosquito bites by
Closing windows at night if possible
Sleeping with a mosquito net, preferably one containing an insecticide,
with the edges tucked under the mattress
Covering up your body as much as possible with clothing
Applying an insect repellent to areas of the body not covered
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 770/488-7788 http://www.cdc.gov/malaria
World Health Organization 202/974-3000 http://www.who.int/en
To find this and other JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link
on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization
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in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For
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TOPIC: INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Parmet S, Lynm C, Glass RM. Malaria. JAMA. 2005;293(12):1542. doi:10.1001/jama.293.12.1542