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The general symptoms include:
Plasmodium falciparum normally take 7 to 14 days to show symptoms while Plasmodium vivax and ovale normally take 8 to 14 days (but in some cases can survive for some months in the human horst) and Plasmodium malariae 7 to 30 days.
These figures are as indication only - the onset of symptoms varies tremendously and people should not try and diagnose themselves by using any time-frame figures as these listed above.
Symptoms of malaria infection are not always dramatic, and can easily be dismissed as unimportant.
Symptoms may appear and disappear in phases and may come and go at various time frames. These cyclic symptoms of malaria are caused by the life cycle of the parasites - as they develop, mature, reproduce and are once again released into the blood stream to infect even more blood and liver cells.
There are cases reported where symptoms of malaria infection developed 12 months after the patient was bitten by a mosquito, as the plasmodia may remain dormant in the liver for a long period.
Malaria causes a flu-like illness and these would include
Fever in the first week of travel in a malaria-risk area is unlikely to be malaria; however, any traveler feeling ill should seek immediate medical care.
Although malaria is unlikely to be the cause, any fever should be promptly evaluated. If you or your child becomes ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to 1 year after returning home, seek immediate medical care.
Tell your health care provider where you have been traveling.
The normal treatments for malaria infection are drugs based on quinine, or a combination drug therapy known as ACTs, based on artemisinin (which is expensive).
While anti-malarial drugs can prevent symptoms of acute malaria from developing, by suppressing the infection in the bloodstream, they however do not prevent relapses of the infection caused by certain strains of the plasmodium parasite which have a persistent liver phase.
The most common type of malaria infection is that of Plasmodium falciparum and this strain does fortunately NOT have a relapsing phase.
The other strains such as Plasmodium vivax, ovale, or malariae can infect the liver and persist in a dormant state for months, or even years after exposure to the infection.
Should a relapse develop it can be treated by restraining the acute symptoms with chloroquine and then overcome the liver infection with medication called primaquine.
This medication is more toxic and has more side effects than chloroquine but is a very effective form of treatment.
People with a deficiency of the blood enzyme G6PD are predisposed to reactions from primaquine treatment but such an enzyme blood deficiency is easy to ascertain with a simple blood test before treatment with primaquine is started.
Prevention of malaria infection is better than curing the disease as the infection is becoming increasingly resistant to prescribed drugs.
Various insecticides, which are used to spray areas favored by mosquitoes, are also no longer effective, and a constant struggle is under way to develop new anti-malarial drugs and insecticides, to keep the disease at bay.