"It is a disease that is reduced to a specific geographical area, but due to the increase in tourism, it affects people all over the world".
DR. JOSÉ LUIS DEL POZO LEÓN
DIRECTOR. INFECTIOUS DISEASES SERVICE
Malaria is produced by a group of parasites of the genus Plasmodium, of which there are four species that affect humans, falciparum, vivax, malariae and ovale.
Man acquires the infection from the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, in whose salivary glands the infecting forms of the parasite are found.
It is a disease that is confined to a specific geographical area, but due to the increase in tourism it affects people all over the world.
In Spain, Western Europe and North America the disease is acquired by travelers to areas where malaria exists. Since travel for various reasons is becoming more frequent and the number of countries visited is increasing, the incidence of this disease in Spain has been growing in recent years.
Do you need a remote second opinion?
Our professionals will provide you with a medical evaluation without you having to leave your home.
What are the symptoms of malaria?
From the bite of the mosquito and the acquisition of the parasite until the beginning of the symptoms there is an incubation period, which lasts between 9 and 30 days. In exceptional cases, and especially in the case of infection by Plasmodium vivax, this period can be extended by several months.
The most characteristic manifestation of the different forms of malaria is the appearance of episodes of fever, preceded by intense shivering, which subsides with very abundant sweating, giving way to a phase of relaxation and low temperature. These cycles are repeated with a different cadence depending on the life cycle of the infecting species, so we speak of tertian fever (every three days) or quartan fever (every four days).
These symptoms are more or less intense depending on the species of plasmodium that causes the infection, and can adopt chronic forms in adults of endemic regions, almost without fever, which constitute a syndrome called tropical splenomegaly.
The species that produces more severe forms is Plasmodium falciparum, which is capable of causing serious complications, with cerebral, pulmonary, renal affectation and important blood alterations. These forms can lead to patient death, especially in non-immunized people in areas where malaria is not common.
Most common symptoms:
- Episodes of fever.
Do you have any of these symptoms?
You may be suffering from malaria
How is malaria diagnosed?
There are different diagnostic methods for malaria. In Spain, a non-endemic area for malaria, the most important is suspicion in the presence of a patient with compatible symptoms who has recently traveled to an endemic area.
There are methods to directly see the parasite in the blood, through a test called a thick drop, in which an extension of blood is stained with various techniques to directly observe the parasite in the red blood cells.
Molecular biology techniques can also be used to detect the parasite's DNA.
Other means of indirect diagnosis study various enzymes of the parasite or detect antibodies against it.
How is malaria treated?
We must distinguish between the different forms of malaria. Uncomplicated malaria, produced by non-falciparum parasites, is usually treated with oral chloroquine, with quinine or pyrimethamine-sulfadiazine as alternatives. In areas where plasmodia are resistant to chloroquine, mefloquine may also be used.
Severe malaria, usually caused by Plasmodium falciparum and most often resistant to chloroquine, is treated with quinine intravenously, although new drugs such as artemisinin, mefloquine, or halofrantine have been used in recent years.
Where do we treat it?
IN NAVARRA AND MADRID
The Infectious Diseases Service
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra
This area works on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases produced by an infectious agent, which can be bacteria, virus, fungus and protozoa. Infections affect people by causing very different processes that can be located in any tissue of the human body, so it requires a specific approach.
This area carries out its activity on three fronts: care work, focused on the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases; teaching, with training of medical students, resident doctors and nurses; and research vocation, through the development of clinical and laboratory studies.
Organized in care units
- Infections associated with biomaterials.
- Nosocomial infections (multi-resistance).
- Infections in immunosuppressed patients.
- Community infection.
- Traveler's medicine.
- Prudent use and optimization program of anti-infective therapy.
- Control of infection by multi-resistant microorganisms.
Why at the Clinica?
- We perform the traveler's assessment and analytical tests in less than 24 hours.
- Second opinion consultation when the infection has not yet been resolved.
- We ensure the prudent use of antibiotics.