What makes malaria dangerous

Malaria: what is it?

Malaria is one of the most important infectious diseases in the subtropics and tropics. It is caused by mosquitoes of the genus anopheles transmitted and by single-cell pathogens of the genus Plasmodium which affect the red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the human body. Classically, a distinction is made between 3 different forms of malaria: the potentially life-threatening one Malaria tropica and 2 milder forms that Malaria tertiana and the Quartana malaria.

The occurrence of the Anopheles mosquito and climatic factors determine the spread of malaria. Almost half of the world's people live in malaria areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of malaria cases per year at around 219 million with 435,000 fatalities. Other estimates assume a significantly higher number of cases. A child dies of malaria every two minutes. Children under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa are particularly affected. Due to the increasing networking of the industrialized countries with the tropical countries, malaria has developed into the most important imported tropical disease in Europe. In Germany, around 1,000 cases per year are currently reported that are brought by travelers and migrants from the distribution areas, whereby most of the diseases (approx. 90%) were acquired in tropical Africa (mainly West Africa: Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Cameroon , but also in Kenya). In 3 out of 4 cases it is the potentially life-threatening one Malaria tropica. 0.5-1% of malaria cases brought to Germany are fatal.

The main symptom of all forms of malaria is fever. The first signs are often misunderstood because they can resemble those of a flu-like infection. The incubation period is very variable and is around Malaria tropica between at least 6 days and several weeks Malaria tertiana and quartana occasionally for more than a year. Therefore, any fever after a stay in the tropics is suspicious of malaria and requires an immediate medical examination. All malaria is curable if it is treated in time. There is currently no generally available vaccination, but various vaccine candidates are currently being tested.