Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Malaria

Bad air; infectious disease of the liver and red blood cells in humans (the host) caused by any of four protozoan species of the genus Plasmodium (the agent), and transmitted primarily by several species of mosquito of the genus Anopheles (the vector). Often known locally as black water fever because of the presence of black urine in severely affected individuals as the hemoglobin molecules are parasitized for globin and the heme portion is filtered by the kidneys; often fatal, about 2-4 million deaths per year worldwide. Roughly one billion people carry the parasite, and 300 million are symptomatic. Erythrocytes of infected individuals rupture, releasing Plasmodium merozoites, toxins, and cell debris; toxins and los of erythrocytes produce complications, and death is usually ascribed to cardiovascular problems. At least three Plasmodium species also infect primates. Old World origin. Aka paludism and jungle fever.

See sickle cell anemia and epidemiology.

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From "Dictionary of Nursing and Individual Health Care"