Malaria is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Four species of Plasmodium can produce the disease in its various forms: Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae.

Symptoms of malaria are generally nonspecific and most commonly consist of fever, malaise, weakness, gastrointestinal complaints (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea), neurologic complaints (dizziness, confusion, disorientation, coma), headache, back pain, myalgia, chills or/or cough. Positive clinical findings may include pallor, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly, icterus, in some cases. Uncomplicated malaria (where patients can take oral therapy) can usually be treated effectively with chloroquine phosphate. Severe malaria (where patients have coma, jaundice, renal failure, hypoglycaemia, lactic acidosis, severe anaemia, high parasite count, hyperpyrexia) is ideally treated in an intensive care or high dependency unit where patients can be monitored closely both clinically and biochemically.


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