Malaria is a protozoan disease transmitted by a mosquito called 'anopheles' and is caused by a small protozoan parasite of the genus Plasmodium which alternately infects human hosts and insects. Protozoa caused by haematozoa of the genus Plasmodium transmitted by a mosquito, the female Anopheles.

It is a very old disease and it is believed that prehistoric man must have suffered from it. The disease probably originated in Africa and followed human migrations to the shores of the Mediterranean, to India and Southeast Asia.

4 species of parasites of the genus Plasmodium are responsible for the disease in humans:

  • Plasmodium falciparum is the most pathogenic species and responsible for fatal cases. It is present in the tropics of Africa, Latin America and Asia, and it is dominant in Africa.
  • Plasmodium vivax co-exists with P. falciparum in many parts of the world, and occurs in some temperate regions.
  • Plasmodium ovale, mainly found in West Africa, does not kill but can relapse 4 to 5 years after the primary infection.
  • Plasmodium malariae has a worldwide but very uneven distribution. It is not lethal but can lead to relapses up to 20 years after the primary infection.

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