Skip to content

    Malaria

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Symptoms

    When symptoms appear

    Malaria can begin with flu-like symptoms. In the early stages, infection from P. falciparum is similar to infection from P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale. You may have no symptoms or symptoms that are less severe if you are partially immune to malaria.

    The time from the initial malaria infection until symptoms appear (incubation period) typically ranges from:2

    • 9 to 14 days for Plasmodium (P.) falciparum.
    • 12 to 18 days for P. vivax and P. ovale.
    • 18 to 40 days for P. malariae.
    • 11 to 12 days for P. knowlesi.

    Symptoms can appear in 7 days. And the time between exposure and signs of illness may sometimes be as long as 8 to 10 months with P. vivax and P. ovale.

    The incubation period may be longer if you are taking medicine to prevent infection (chemoprophylaxis) or because you have some immunity due to previous infections.

    Variation in symptoms

    In regions where malaria is present, people who get infected many times may have the disease but have few or no symptoms.3 Also, how bad malaria symptoms are can vary depending on your general health, what kind of malaria parasite you have, and whether you still have your spleen.

    Common symptoms of malaria

    In the early stages, malaria symptoms are sometimes similar to those of many other infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Symptoms may include:

    Symptoms may appear in cycles. The time between episodes of fever and other symptoms varies with the specific parasite you are infected with. Episodes of symptoms may occur:

    • Every 48 hours if you are infected with P. vivax or P. ovale.
    • Every 72 hours if you are infected with P. malariae.

    P. falciparum does not usually cause a regular, cyclic fever.

    The cyclic pattern of malaria symptoms is due to the life cycle of malaria parasites camera.gif as they develop, reproduce, and are released from the red blood cells and liver cells in the human body. This cycle of symptoms is also one of the major signs that you are infected with malaria.

    Other common symptoms of malaria

    Other common symptoms of malaria include:

    In rare cases, malaria can lead to impaired function of the brain or spinal cord, seizures, or loss of consciousness.

    Infection with the P. falciparum parasite is usually more serious and may become life-threatening.

    There are other conditions with symptoms similar to a malaria infection. It is important that you see your doctor to find out the cause of your symptoms.

    1

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    acupuncture needle on shoulder
    10 tips to look and feel good.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    woman biting a big ice cube
    Habits that wreck your teeth.
    pacemaker next to xray
    Treatment options.
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.