Plasmodium species (Malaria)

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Plasmodium species (Malaria)


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Plasmodium species (Malaria)

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USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE

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A group of microbiologists are investigating Plasmodium species and their ability to cause malaria. Which of the following stages of the Plasmodium life cycle is responsible for causing initial infection?  

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malaria p. 154


malaria p. 154, 197


malaria p. 154

Chloroquine p. 197

malaria p. 154


malaria p. 154

Headache p. 536

malaria p. 154


anemia in p. 417

artesunate for p. 197

Plasmodium p. , 154

quinidine/quinine for p. 197

Mosquitoes (disease vectors)

malaria p. 154


malaria p. 154


Malaria is an infection that can be caused by a few different types of Plasmodium species, which are single-celled parasites that get spread around by mosquitoes.

Once the plasmodium gets into the bloodstream, it starts to infect and destroy mainly liver cells and red blood cells, which causes a variety of symptoms and sometimes even death.

Malaria is a serious global health problem that affects millions of people, particularly young children under the age of 5, pregnant women, patients with other health conditions like HIV and AIDS, and travelers who have had no prior exposure to malaria.

Tropical and subtropical regions are hit the hardest, together the most affected regions form the malaria belt, which is a broad band around the equator that includes much of latin america, sub-saharan africa, south asia, and southeast asia.

There are hundreds of types of Plasmodium species, but only five cause malarial disease in humans, and those are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium knowlesi.

Plasmodium vivax uses a specific erythrocyte surface receptor called the Duffy antigen.

And some individuals, particularly those with sickle-cell anemia lack this receptor, meaning that Plasmodium vivax cannot get into their cells.

In other words, having sickle cell anemia is genetically related to having relative protection from Plasmodium vivax.

Other diseases, like thalassemia and G6PD deficiency make the parasite-infected erythrocyte more susceptible to dying from oxidative stress.


Plasmodium is a genus of parasites that cause malaria in humans and other animals. Five species of Plasmodium primarily infect humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. knowlesi. People get infected with malaria when they are bitten by a plasmodium-infected female Anopheles mosquito. P. falciparum is known to cause the most dangerous form of malaria, resulting in most of malaria deaths worldwide. Treatment typically involves antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine, mefloquine, or artemisinin-based combination therapies.


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