- P. falciparum is the type of malariathat is most likely to result in severe infections and if not promptly treated, may lead to death. Although malariacan be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented. Malaria is a serious and sometimes life-threatening tropical disease that spreads through parasites. It kills more than 445,000 people a year. This releases more parasites into your bloodstream. As they attack more of your healthy red blood cells, this infection can make you feel very sick.
There are five species of Plasmodium parasites that affect humans. Two of them are considered the most dangerous:
- P. falciparum. This is the most common malaria parasite , and it causes the most malaria-related deaths in the world. P. falciparum multiplies very fast , causing severe blood loss and clogged blood vessels.
- P. vivax . It is the malaria parasite most commonly found outside of sub-Saharan Africa, basically in Asia and Latin America. It species can lie dormant, then rise up to infect your blood months or years after the mosquito bite.
- P. ovale: This species is rarely found outside Africa or the western Pacific islands. Symptoms are similar to those of P. vivax. Like P. vivax, P. ovale can hide in the liver for years before bursting out again and causing symptoms.
- P. malariae: It is found worldwide but is less common than the other forms. This form of malaria is hard to diagnose because there are usually very few parasites in the blood. If untreated, the infection can last many years.
- P. knowlesi: Found predominantly in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia, this species can also cause high levels of parasites in the blood, leading to organ failure or death.
There is no malaria vaccine available to prevent malaria at the time of this writing. If the vaccine continues to perform well, the vaccine could become available for use within the decade.