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Pattern Recognition


Patients present with a variety of symptoms depending on the stage of infection and the infecting species. Fever is virtually always present, and fever plus any other symptom might be malaria if exposure occurred. Common complaints
include mild to moderate malaise, fatigue, muscle aches, back pain, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Dry cough and shortness of breath have been reported in some patients.

Chills or rigor, followed by high fever occurring a cyclical pattern in infections due to P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae, but not P. falciparum, which is more likely to show continuous fever with intermittent temperature spikes.

The malaria paroxysm is the defining clinical feature of the disease. However, it is often not present. Fever caused by malaria can have any pattern, and falciparum infections often present with a constant fever. The classic paroxysm typically has three stages, and is preceded in some patients by an initial period of nonspecific symptoms. Those symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches, loss of appetite, headache, and a slight fever of 2-3 day's duration. A paroxysm begins with the "cold" or "chilling" stage lasting 15 minutes to several hours during which the patient feels cold and has shaking chills. The second "hot" stage lasts several hours and coincides with red blood cell rupture and merozoite release. During the second stage temperatures rise to 40C (104F) or higher. There is minimal sweating and the patient is at risk of febrile seizures or hyperthermic brain damage. Clinical signs and symptoms include tachycardia, hypotension, cough, headache, backache, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and altered consciousness. Within 2-6 hours, the patient enters the third "sweating" stage of the paroxysm with generalized sweating, resolution of fever, and marked exhaustion, usually giving way to sleep. Paroxysms occur in regular intervals, but take several days to emerge.

Gastrointestinal complaints can be considerable, suggesting a diagnosis of gastroenteritis. Young children and semi-immune individuals may complain of fever and headache as their only symptoms.

Table - I : Selected Characteristics of the Four Species of Human Malaria

P. falciparum P. vivax P. ovale P. malariae

Fever periodicity (hours) none 48 48 72

Febrile paroxysm length 16-36 or longer 8-12 8-12 8-10 (hours)

Severity of primary attack severe in mild to mild mild

non-immune severe

Drug Resistance ++ + - -


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engecha, United States

Hello, nice to read, this is interesting.
How do people like me get the cure for complicated or chronic malaria? Im from Africa live the USA. They are not able to diagnose the disease here but when i went back home i was tested positive. I was prescribed artesunate but it didn't work. Usually my family sent some drugs
for the malaria treatment but im still suffering from the illness.

neeraj1975, India

not upto the mark needs more research on the topic to make it more informative

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