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With malaria, the patient develops a high fever, which comes and goes. The pattern of febrile and afebrile periods may vary according to the species of malaria. However, there does not have to be a pattern to the fever. Initially, malaria feels like the flu with high fever and body aches, with hot and cold stages. Signs and symptoms in children may be nonspecific, leading to delays in diagnosis. People also may have headache, nausea, shaking chills (rigors), sweating, and weakness. Anemia is common in patients with malaria, in part due to the effects of the Plasmodium parasite on the red cells. It is extremely uncommon for malaria to cause skin lesions or rash.
P. falciparum causes a particularly severe form of malaria. In addition to fever, patients may experience severe hemolytic anemia caused by destruction of the red cells, kidney failure, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), cerebral malaria, coma, or death.
People who have lived for years in areas with malaria may develop a partial immunity to new infections, although this will wane if they leave the area.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014
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