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Definition of MALARIA
archaic: air infected with a noxious substance capable of causing disease; especially:miasma
a: a human disease that is caused by sporozoan parasites (genus Plasmodium) in the red blood cells, is transmitted by the bite of anopheline mosquitoes, and is characterized by periodic attacks of chills and fever
b: any of various diseases of birds and mammals caused by blood protozoans
: an acute or chronic disease caused by the presence of sporozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium in the red blood cells, transmitted from an infected to an uninfected individual by the bite of anopheline mosquitoes, and characterized by periodic attacks of chills and fever that coincide with mass destruction of blood cells and the release of toxic substances by the parasite at the end of each reproductive cycle <malaria remains the greatest single cause of debilitation and death throughout the world—Journal of the American Medical Association>—see falciparum malaria, vivax malaria
: any of various diseases of birds and mammals that are more or less similar to malaria of human beings and are caused by blood protozoans
A serious relapsing infection caused by protozoa of the genus Plasmodium (seeplasmodium), transmitted by the bite of the Anophelesmosquito. Known since before the 5th century BC, it occurs in tropical and subtropical regions near swamps. The roles of the mosquito and the parasite were proved in the early 20th century. Annual cases worldwide are estimated at 250 million and deaths at 2 million. Malaria from different Plasmodium species differs in severity, mortality, and geographic distribution. The parasites have an extremely complex life cycle; in one stage they develop synchronously inside red blood cells. Their mass fissions at 48- or 72-hour intervals cause attacks lasting 4–10 hours. Shaking and chills are followed by fever of up to 105 °F (40.6 °C), with severe headache and then profuse sweating as temperature returns to normal. Patients often have anemia, spleen enlargement, and general weakness. Complications can be fatal. Malaria is diagnosed by detecting the parasites in blood. Quinine was long used to alleviate the fevers. Synthetic drugs, such as chloroquine, destroy the parasites in blood cells, but many strains are now resistant. Carriers of a gene for a hemoglobinopathy have natural resistance. Malaria prevention requires preventing mosquito bites: eliminating mosquito breeding places and using insecticides or natural predators, window screens, netting, and insect repellent. See alsoprotozoal disease.