Falciparum Malaria

Falciparum Malaria - Falciparum malaria is commonly referred to as cerebral malaria. Falciparum malaria is life threatening and is reported to affect millions of people every year.

Bushra Kafeel
Written by: Bushra KafeelUpdated at: Jan 19, 2013 15:48 IST
Falciparum Malaria

Falciparum malaria, commonly referred to as cerebral malaria is the most dangerous and life threatening form of malaria. As the name suggests it is caused by falciparum, a protozoa of plasmodium (P.) genus. According to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), falciparum malaria affects more than 300-500 million people annually. The people who are living in malaria epidemic areas and children below 10 years of age are more vulnerable to cerebral malaria.

It is essential to start treatment as soon as possible since delay can result in fatal outcomes. When not treated timely it proves to be life threatening in about 20% of the patients and can cause conditions such as haemoglobinuria, jaundice, and tender or enlarged spleen to name a few. Falciparum malaria turns fatal within 24 to 72 hours of its onset. The common symptoms of cerebral malaria include:

  • Non-specific fever with impaired consciousness.
  • Generalised convulsions.
  • Neurological abnormalities.
  • Coma (reported in some of the cases).

P. Falciparum is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. This species of plasmodium leads to chills, headache, persistent high fever, capillary blockage, orthostatic hypotension and muscle pain.  The other categorising symptoms of falciparum malaria are mutation in mental status and even coma in some of the cases. Ring like lesions are formed in the brain of a cerebral malaria patient. A distinguishing symptom of cerebral malaria is retinal whitening.

According to WHO, cerebral malaria has the highest mortality ratio than the other types of malaria. Every year it causes over a million deaths. Till now there is no specific treatment for cerebral malaria so the best way to prevent it is to avoid being bitten by the mosquitoes.


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