8 Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria is a life threatening infection of the blood caused by a specific type of parasite called a Plasmodium. It is a mosquito-borne disease that is transmitted by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. After an infected anopheles mosquito bites a human, the parasites begin multiplying. This proliferation takes place in the human liver. After the parasites multiply, they begin to destroy the person’s red blood cells, leading to eventual death if treatment is not sought. Fortunately, there are various signs and symptoms of malaria that typically motivate people to seek help.

In most instances, malaria is treatable and controllable, particularly if an early diagnosis is made. Unfortunately, in certain parts of the world, limited resources are available to effectively prevent deaths from the disease. As of 2018, there is no malaria vaccination available in the United States, although there is one currently in use in Europe.

1. Abdomen Pain

Abdomen pain is one of the first symptoms of malaria in many cases. This is because in the early stages of the infection–usually the first five days–the spleen and liver begin to rapidly enlarge due to inflammation. This causes pressure on the abdominal cavity and often leads to constant pain or abdominal spasms that come and go. Abdomen pain is almost always linked to one particular strain of the disease that is caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. However, all strains of malaria typically cause some level of pain in the abdomen.

In many cases, patients misunderstand this symptom and think they have simply eaten something that caused stomach cramps, but abdominal pain from malaria is typically not directly related to the stomach. Rather, the pain one feels in the abdominal cavity is primarily from inflammation of the the spleen and liver.