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Definitions and symptoms

As the malaria parasites enter the blood stream they infect and destroy red blood cells. Destruction of these essential cells leads to fever and flu-like symptoms, such as chills, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These initial symptoms are non-specific: in other words, they are self-reported symptoms that do not indicate a specific disease process. Uncomplicated malaria (can be caused by all strains of Plasmodium) Malaria is considered uncomplicated when symptoms are present but there are no clinical or laboratory signs to indicate severity or vital organ dysfunction. The symptoms of uncomplicated malaria are nonspecific and include fever. Severe malaria (only caused by P. falciparum) Infection with P. falciparum, if not promptly treated, can quickly progress to severe malaria. The main symptoms of severe malaria include: coma, severe breathing difficulties, low blood sugar, and low blood haemoglobin (severe anaemia). It is diagnosed on the basis of the presence P. falciparum parasites and one of the above symptoms with no other obvious cause. Children are particularly vulnerable since they have little or no immunity to the parasite. If untreated, severe malaria can lead to death. Cerebral malaria (only caused by P. falciparum) Malaria is classified as cerebral when it manifests with cerebral symptoms, such as coma. When symptoms appear The time from the initial malaria infection until symptoms appear (incubation period) generally ranges from:1 9 to 14 days for Plasmodium (P.) falciparum. 12 to 18 days for P. vivax and P. ovale. 18 to 40 days for P. malariae. 11 to 12 days for P. knowlesi. Symptoms can appear in 7 days. Sometimes, the time between exposure and signs of illness may be as long as 8 to 10 months with P. vivax and P. ovale. The incubation period may be longer if you are taking medicine to prevent infection (chemoprophylaxis) or because you have some immunity due to previous infections. Variation in symptoms In regions where malaria is present, people who get infected many times may have the disease but have few or no symptoms.2 Also, how bad malaria symptoms are can vary depending on your general health, what kind of malaria parasite you have, and whether you still have your spleen. Common symptoms of malaria In the early stages, malaria symptoms are sometimes similar to those of many other infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Symptoms may include: Fever.

Chills. Headache. Sweats. Fatigue. Nausea and vomiting. Symptoms may appear in cycles and may come and go at different intensities and for different lengths of time. But, especially at the beginning of the illness, the symptoms may not follow this typical pattern. The cyclic pattern of malaria symptoms is due to the life cycle of malaria parasites as they develop, reproduce, and are released from the red blood cells and livercells in the human body. This cycle of symptoms is also one of the major indicators that you are infected with malaria. Other common symptoms of malaria Other common symptoms of malaria include:

Dry (nonproductive) cough. Muscle and/or back pain. Enlarged spleen. In rare cases, malaria can lead to impaired function of the brain or spinal cord,seizures, or loss of consciousness. Infec ion with the P. falciparum parasite is usually more serious and may becomelife-threatening