Malaria is an infection caused by the protozoan parasites that belong to the Plasmodium family. Mainly there are four common subspecies (P. vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale and P. malariea) that are responsible for human malarial infection and a fifth subspecies (P. knowlesi) that generally causes infections in macaques (but has been known to affect a small population of humans as well).
How Do You Get Malaria?
This infection is mosquito borne and is transmitted to humans on being bitten by a female anopheles mosquito that is a carrier of this Plasmodium parasite. These mosquitos are generally known to be active during the night. Generally, it takes some time between the mosquito bite and the physical manifestation of the infection symptoms. This period is called the incubation period. During this period, the parasite travels to the liver of the infected to multiply and grow. This parasite later travels to the bloodstream where it destroys the red blood cells that cause the physical symptoms to appear.
What is the Malaria Incubation Period for Different Plasmodium Species?
In general, the incubation period between getting the malarial infection through a mosquito bite and occurrence of malarial symptoms can range from a week to a year. Factors that affect the incubation period include the type of malarial infection and any prior treatment by anti-malarial drugs.
What is the Malaria Incubation Period for P Vivax?
P. falciparum has been known to have a short incubation period of 10 to 14 days while P. malariae tends to have longer incubation periods that range from 18 to 40 days and can last up to a year. P. vivax and P. ovale have an even longer incubation period. Typically, P. vivax has an incubation period of 12 to 17 days, but it has a greater probability of relapse. This is because there is a possibility of an initial outbreak of symptoms by a small proportion of the parasites while another set of parasites can lie dormant in the liver for several years. These may become active at any point in time and start multiplying and destroying the red blood cells. This is why the patient may relapse after a few months of treatment.
In addition, the patients who have taken antimalarial drugs as a prophylactic measure experience an increase in their incubation periods from a few weeks to a few months. Such long incubation periods often lead to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis by the physician. This is why it is advisable to let your physician know any travel in the last year to malaria prone locations. This will help in a quick diagnosis and treatment.
What are the Symptoms of Malaria?
Malarial infections are classified as either uncomplicated or complicated cases. In most uncomplicated cases, patients complain of experiencing bouts of fever and shivering followed by bouts of fatigue and sweating. In complicated cases, usually the parasite has caused a complication called cerebral malaria where the patient experiences attack of fits, mental confusion, loss of consciousness and displays generally odd behavior.
How do you Diagnose a Malarial Infection?
If you experience any of the suspected malarial symptoms, it is advisable to consult a physician. You are recommended to let your physician know of your travel history over the last 6 months to a year. Particular attention should be placed on the geographic locations, your activities and exposure to natural elements during your travel and the prevalence of specific diseases in that region. In addition, you should also inform your physician if you had an outbreak of the disease in your locality. Once physician has these details and your physical examination is indicative of a malarial infection, physician shall send your blood sample to the lab for confirmation of the parasite’s presence. It takes usually a day or so to get back the blood smear results from the lab. With the right diagnosis and treatment, recovery is quick and prognosis is favorable.
- Is Malaria Contagious, Know the Incubation Period, Treatment, Recovery Period of Malaria?
- How Do You Treat Someone With Malaria?
- Can Malaria Come Back After Treatment?
- Why Is There So Much Malaria In Africa?
- How Far In Advance Do You Need To Take Malaria Pills?
- Can Malaria Be Treated With Antibiotics?
- How Are You Diagnosed With Malaria?