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Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium. Five types of plasmodium species can infect and be transmitted by humans which are P. malariae, P. vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale and P. knowlesi. However Plasmodium falciparum is the most dangerous form of malaria. It causes nearly all of the malarial mortality. Microscopic examination of Giemsa stained thin or thick blood smears has been gold standard for malaria diagnosis. But incorrect diagnosis of the parasites is common, especially when the infection level is low. Serological diagnostic methods and new rapid diagnostic tests are other methods for malaria diagnosis. However sensitivity is limited and species identification is not fully accomplished. Therefore, Real Time PCR technique presents a complete solution for detection of Plasmodium species with a high sensitivity using 18S ribosomal RNA gene region.
Malaria is humanity's dominant protozoan disease which is a devastating global health problem. It kills 2 million people each year and infects hundreds of millions every year. The most fatal type of malaria in humans is caused by P. falciparum infection and P.vivax being the geographically most widely distributed cause of malaria. In 2006, an estimated 247 million people were infected with malaria and it is much more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa than in other regions of the world; in most African countries.
Modes of Transmission
The life cycle of Plasmodium is complicated. It is firstly transmitted to humans by the infected female Anopheles mosquito. Sporozoites are transferred from the salivary glands of the mosquito to the bloodstream and invade liver cells rapidly. Then the parasites undergo asexual reproduction in liver cells and form merozoites. These merozoites are then invade erythrocytes and rupture of the infected erythrocytes occurs. Some of these merozoites differentiate into male and female gametocytes. In bite of another Anopheles mosquito, these gametocytes are transferred to mosquito by human blood. Sexual reproduction of these gametocytes occurs in mosquito gut and sporozoites are formed again and when the mosquito bites other person, the sporozoites are transmitted again.
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