- Organism obtaining nourishment from or living one another organism for survival and usually harming it and causing disease.
- The organism which they obtain their nutrition from is called host.
- Parasites cause damage, diseases and sometimes death of the organisms.
- Some well known examples of parasites includemites, tapeworms, mistletoe, and fleas
The malaria parasite
- Malaria parasites are micro-organisms that belong to the genusPlasmodium.
- Malaria is caused by the bites from the femaleAnopheles mosquito, which then infects the body with the parasite Plasmodium.
- When an infected mosquito bites, parasites multiply in the host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells.
- Plasmodium is a parasite that lives and reproduces in the liver and red blood cells of the man. They cause damage to the red blood cell of man. They also releases toxin into the blood stream, causing fever which is characteristic symptom of malaria.
- This is the reason why usually red blood cells are examined to find whether a person is infected with malaria.
Transmission of malaria
- Malaria is transmitted normally via the bite of an infected mosquito. These mosquitoes, always female and of the genusAnopheles, carry malaria parasites in their salivary glands.
- The parasites, at this part of their life cycle known as sporozoites, are introduced into the host’s blood when the mosquito takes a blood meal. From there, the sporozoites travel to the liver, reproduce, then finally re-enter the blood stream.
- At this point, the patient will begin to experience symptoms.
- Eventually, the malaria parasites change again, into gametocytes, which are picked up by another mosquito, again when it bites the infected person.
- In this way, the life cycle of the malaria parasite continues.
Control of malaria
- Awareness of risk of malaria.
- By avoiding mosquito bites.
- Taking antimalarial medication exactly as prescribed.
- Prompt Diagnosis and treatment.