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Malaria: clinical features and prevention

Malaria is a mosquito-transmitted parasitic infection that can cause the destruction of red blood cells, leading to severe illness and death. Taking antimalarials can reduce the risk of infection

Malaria mosquito (Sergey Kochmaryov/


Malaria is caused by transmission of the protozoan parasite plasmodium from the female anopheles mosquito to a human host. Endemic regions include tropical regions of Africa (where mortality is highest), Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East.

The most common cause of malaria in the UK is infection with the species Plasmodium falciparum, which also causes the most severe disease. All people who are travelling to an endemic area will require chemoprophylaxis. Choice of antimalarial depends on the area the person is travelling to, when they are travelling and what they will be doing there — as well as his or her medical history.

Orla Geoghegan is specialist pharmacist (antimicrobials) at Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Imogen Clarke is specialist registrar (infectious diseases/ microbiology) at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust.


Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2014.11136624

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