Plasmodium falciparum is one of the parasitic organisms carried by mosquitoes that cause malaria when infecting a human. This is only one of five types of plasmodium that cause malaria. However, Plasmodium falciparum is believed to cause as much as 40% of all malaria infections worldwide as well as the most severe presentation, including almost all fatal cases. (Wellems, Hayton & Fairhurst, 2009) Another 40% of malaria cases can be attributed to P. vivax, the remaining infections, until recent years were the result of infection with P. ovale and P. malariae. A new strand, P. knowlesi, previously thought only to infect certain primates in Southeast Asia, has recently emerged in the human population. (Wellems, Hayton & Fairhurst, 2009)
Plasmodium falciparum is carried by mosquitoes and spread from human to human through bites from these insects. When the parasite first enters the blood stream it migrates to the liver where it matures in hepatocytes (liver cells). After it reaches full maturity, it enters the blood stream inside red blood cells; this can take as little as eight days or as long as a year,   but in most infections it happens between ten days and four weeks. After 48 to 72 hours from RBC invasion by the parasite, the blood cell bursts allowing the parasite to spread and causing the infected individual to have severe bouts of anemia. In addition to anemia malaria can present with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as, in more severe cases, jaundice, convulsions, coma or death. (Kumar, Abbas, & Fausto, 2005)
Malaria is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and is most prevalent in the tropics and subtropics; it can be seen in more temperate climates, but does not survive winter. A disease believed to be malaria was first described by the Chinese in 2700 BC; this disease was soon studied by cultures reaching from Asia to ancient Greece. The first treatment, artemisinin, believed to be...