Malaria (cont.)

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What is the prognosis (outcome) for people with malaria?

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The majority of people who become infected with P. malariae, vivax, or ovale do well and the fevers abate after about 96 hours. However, in endemic areas, reinfection is common. Malaria caused by P. falciparum or P. knowlesi, even when treated, have outcomes ranging from fair to poor, depending on how the parasites react to treatment. Untreated people often die from these infections. In general, patients who are infants, children under the age of 5 (especially in sub-Saharan countries), and those with depressed immune systems (for example, AIDS or cancer patients) have a more guarded prognosis.

Is there a vaccine for malaria?

Currently, there is no commercially available vaccine for malaria. However, in the past few years, researchers have made good progress with experimental vaccines. A recent large clinical trial (in children in eight African countries) sponsored by the Gates Foundation indicated the experimental vaccine protected about 50% of those immunized against malaria. In August 2013, a vaccine produced by Sanaria, Inc., and tested by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported a 100% protection rate in a small study group. This is the first time that a group of people have been effectively protected against malaria. However, this vaccine uses multiple IV injections of irradiated, frozen parasites, and various researchers suggest it may take three to 10 years before the vaccine could be approved for commercial use.

Other researchers are taking a novel approach to stopping malaria by interrupting the life cycle of the parasite using a vaccine in humans. Briefly, humans are vaccinated against a mosquito gut protein (named AnAPN1) so the human produces antibodies against it. The mosquito bites the immunized human, ingests AnAPN1 antibodies while it sucks blood that in turn attack the mosquito gut protein. The gut protein is required for the malaria parasite to develop so mosquitoes that get the antibodies no longer can transmit the disease to humans.

In the future, we may see combinations of such experimental vaccine methods to substantially reduce the devastating effect malaria parasites have on people, especially children (World Health Organization estimates for 2010, 219 million people [154 to 289 million] were infected, with 660,000 deaths worldwide -- the majority of deaths occurred in children).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/11/2013

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