Stanford Travel Clinic

Malaria

Contact Information

Stanford Travel Clinic
900 Blake Wilbur Drive
Palo Alto, CA 94034
Phone: (650) 736-5700
Scheduling Hours
Monday - Friday
8:30am - 5:00pm
Travel Clinic Hours
Thursdays
8:30am - 12:00pm

What is malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. These mosquitoes are present in the tropics and subtropics in almost all countries.

Malaria is the most deadly of all tropical parasitic diseases. After the parasites enter the body by a mosquito bite, they disappear from the circulating blood within an hour and gather in the liver. After several days, infected red blood cells (RBCs) emerge from the liver and infect other RBCs.

For more information about malaria, please visit the CDC site.

What are the different types of malaria parasites?

Five species of Plasmodium (single-celled parasites) can infect humans and cause illness:

Falciparum malaria is potentially life-threatening. Patients with severe falciparum malaria may develop liver and kidney failure, convulsions, and coma. Although occasionally severe, infections with P. vivax and P. ovale generally cause less serious illness, but the parasites can remain dormant in the liver for many months, causing a reappearance of symptoms months or even years later.

What are the risks of acquiring malaria?

The risk of acquiring malaria depends on:

What are the symptoms of malaria?

Early stages of malaria may be similar to the flu. The following are the most common symptoms of malaria. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Symptoms of malaria usually appear 1-4 weeks after the infectious mosquito bite, although sometimes after much longer and may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult a doctor for a diagnosis.

How is malaria diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for malaria may include blood work to rule out other possible infections. Infected RBCs from a person's blood sample can also often be directly visualized under the microscope.

Can malaria be prevented?

Malaria can often be prevented by the use of antimalarial drugs and use of protection measures against mosquito bites.

What is the treatment for malaria?

Specific treatment for malaria will be determined by your doctor based on:

What are the CDC's recommendations for travelers?

Travelers who become ill with a fever during or after travel in a malaria risk area should seek prompt medical attention and should inform their doctors of their recent travel history. Neither the traveler nor the doctor should assume that the traveler has the flu or some other disease without completing a laboratory test to determine if the symptoms are caused by malaria.

Malaria symptoms can develop as early as six to eight days after being bitten by an infected mosquito or as late as several months after departure from a malarious area, after antimalarial drugs are discontinued. Malaria can be treated effectively in its early stages, but delaying treatment can have serious consequences.

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