Plasmodium spp.

Malaria has accounted for more human death and suffering than all human conflicts combined since records began. Over 400 million people live under the threat of malaria with 350-500 million cases reported each year. Approximately 1 million people die of malaria each year, most of them children.

Human malaria is caused by four species of the Plasmodium parasite (P. ovale, P. malariae, P. vivax and P. falciparum). All are transmitted by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito.

Travellers returning from areas known to have this disease should watch for fever and flu-like symptoms which include shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also occur.

The most dangerous species in humans is P. falciparum (also known as cerebral malaria), which can cause seizures, mental confusion or coma, severe anaemia, kidney failure and frequently death.

Malaria is found mostly in tropical regions. It is highly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and there have been occasional reports of transmission in northern Australia.

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