Summary of Plasmodium species (Malaria)
Transcript for Plasmodium species (Malaria)
Content Reviewers:Rishi Desai, MD, MPH, Kyle Slinn, RN, BScN, MEd, Vincent Waldman, PhD, Tanner Marshall, MS, Maria Fernanda Villareal
Plasmodium species (Malaria)
Malaria is a parasite carried by mosquitos.
While this doesn’t sound overly alarming, malaria is responsible for approximately half a million deaths in 2015.
Malaria is caused by parasitic Plasmodium protozoans in blood stream.
It is transmitted by female mosquitoes.
In the lifecycle of the Plasmodium virus, the mosquito is the definite host: where the virus will replicate sexually, and the human is the secondary host and acts as a vector transmission - the human is used to increase the virus numbers and spread the malaria virus to other mosquitos.
The symptoms of malaria include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, joint pain, fatigue, anemia and paroxysm.
Paroxysm is when a fever and sweating cyclically alternates with chills and shivering.
So, to say malaria is unpleasant is an understatement.
So a female mosquito is carrying a nasty Plasmodium virus.
The mosquito pierces the human’s skin and injects the malarial virus in the form of sporocytes.
The sporocytes move through the bloodstream to the liver where the sporocytes infect the hepatocytes - the liver cells.
In the hepatocytes, the sporocytes reproduce asexually to increase its numbers.
This is part of the incubation period of the virus, and it can vary depending on the Plasmodium species.
At this point in time, the human host is asymptomatic.
After reproducing asexually in the liver, the sporocytes have become thousands of merozoites.
The merozoites cause the liver cells to rupture, and they escape into the bloodstream.
The thousands of cloaked merozoites now infect red blood cells, where they become trophozoites once again.
The trophozoites reproduce asexually to become schizonts.
The schizonts break down the hemoglobin into amino acids forming the waste product of hemozoin.
Periodically - once every two or three days, depending on the species of the Plasmodium - the red blood cells will burst, releasing parasites in the form of merozoites into the bloodstream.