Can Malaria Come Back After Treatment?

Malaria is a serious disease which has potential to cause serious complications and even death. It is a mosquito-borne disease transmitted by the bite of female Anopheles mosquito that carries the parasite Plasmodium. This parasite makes your liver its home to multiply and grow and infect red blood cells of your body. Malaria comes with symptoms similar to flu that remains in the body for a specific time period and goes off. Even if your symptoms are managed by medicines, there is the possibility of the disease to come back.

Can Malaria Come Back After Treatment?

Can Malaria Come Back After Treatment?

Yes, malaria can return and re-infect you. Malaria is a fatal disease in which parasite is transported by certain species of mosquito which feeds on man. The main habitat of the parasite is in the human liver and RBC cells. The disease brings the high range of temperature, chills, and shivers with shaking and illness similar to flu.

Four species of parasite that are known to cause malaria are Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. They are transmitted by female mosquito named anopheles. Plasmodium knowlesi a species has been discovered recently that infect human in Southeast Asia, is spread by the animal to human. Plasmodium falciparum is most fatal species as they cause severe infections in the brain and if not treated properly can result in death.

The parasite feeds on human liver cells and RBC cells for survival. They live in the form of larva in the carrier mosquito and get transmitted to the human body through the bite of the mosquito via its saliva. They grow and multiply by feeding on the liver and red blood cells and cause illness. They can remain dormant in the liver for years when the immunity of the infected person lowers down, they re-infect and malaria returns back. When the liver stage is dormant, the symptoms of malaria also become dormant and the patient experience no symptom. But the liver stage switches to blood stage, the parasite reproduce and malaria reappears.

The reasons behind reinfection of malaria can be following-

The human does not develop immunity against the parasite Plasmodium. Healthy immunity cannot be able to stop their growth and reproduction in the body. But whenever your immunity weakness, already infected person in whom parasite is in the dormant stage, the person can get re-infected again.

You can also get infected if you travel to endemic areas of malaria such as many countries of Africa and others. Even if you are treated previously, malaria can come back in such cases.

Malaria caused by P. falciparum can return back at irregular intervals up to 2 years if it is not treated properly. You can suffer again from malaria for 3 to 4 years if it is caused by P. ovale and P. vivax as these parasites can live in the liver in the dormant state. This relapse can be prevented by a specific medicine primaquine that can kill the parasite in liver stages P. malariae also can cause malarial relapses as they remain in the dormant stage in human blood more than 30 years without symptoms.

Improper treatment of malaria can also lead to recurrences. When the patient is on medication of malaria, most of the parasite is killed and the patient feels better, but the parasite can remain in the dormant stage in the blood. Once the treatment is finished, the parasites can replicate again and trigger malaria again. This time, you have to consume a different kind of malaria medicines from that if you had taken previously.

Another chance of reinfection of malaria can be the fresh bite of infected mosquito even if you are successfully treated before.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 15, 2018

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