Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Malaria alert - just vivax? No worries!
Malaria in Singapore tends to be of two main types - those caused by Plasmodium falciparum or those by Plasmodium vivax. Malaria infections begin in the liver, but quickly moves to the red blood cells. It is the repeated waves of red cell to red cell infections that give rise to the cycles of fever.
Infection due to falciparum tends to be severe and carries high risk of brain involvement (cerebral malaria) and renal failure due to severe haemolysis. Vivax infection of the other hand tends to me mild, but is notoriously difficult to eradicate and 'cure' as it carries a dormant form in the liver cells which reactivates from time to time. This reactivation gives the wrong impression that it is a new infection.
So far it appears that the current 'spike' of malaria is of the vivax variety. If so, this 'spike' may just be due to reactivation of old infections. But I don't think so. No reason for reactivations to ocur in clusters. In anycase, vivax infections are nothing to be to worried about.