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Malaria (cont.)

Malaria Treatment and Medications

There are several medications available to treat malaria, including

The choice of drug depends on the species of Plasmodium and if the parasite is drug-resistant. The risk of drug resistance depends on the area where the malaria was acquired. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, older drugs like chloroquine are largely ineffective.

Most medications are available only as tablets or pills. Intravenous treatment with quinidine may be needed in severe malaria or when the patient cannot take oral medications.

Malaria during pregnancy is very serious even in the best of hands and requires treatment by someone who is an expert in this area. Complications of malaria in pregnancy can include premature birth, miscarriage, and stillbirth, as well as severe complications in the mother. Patients with P. vivax or P. ovale may not be completely cured by the above medications, even though the symptoms resolve. This is because the parasites can hide in the liver. A medication called primaquine is used to eradicate the liver form, but this drug cannot be given to people who are deficient in an enzyme called G6PD.

Importantly, the CDC maintains a malaria hotline. Clinicians can telephone the CDC for advice on diagnosis and treatment of the disease (http://www.cdc.gov).

Follow-up

Patients should report any recurrent fever or symptoms to their doctor because treatment failures may occur. People who have had malaria should not donate blood for at least three years after treatment and should notify the donation center that they have had malaria. People who traveled to areas where malaria occurs also should not donate blood or other blood products for a period of time, which varies according to the circumstance. Contact the donation center for specific advice.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/1/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Malaria »

Malaria, which predominantly occurs in tropical areas, is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by infection with Plasmodium protozoa transmitted by an infective female Anopheles mosquito vector.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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