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Signs and symptoms

Malaria often presents as a flu-like illness with fevers, chills, sweats, headaches, aches and malaise. Some people develop gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Signs and symptoms develop when the parasites change from the liver stage and enter red blood cells to undergo multiplication. After a few days the red blood cells burst to release the parasites.

A large spleen may be present, but there may be few other signs that can be detected by a physical examination.

Complicated malaria, primarily caused by P. falciparum, is life-threatening. It can affect the brain, kidneys, lungs and red blood cells and can result in multi-organ failure. When it affects the brain it is called cerebral malaria.

Last Review Date: November 6, 2017