Malaria is a widely distributed tropical infection caused by vector-borne parasites of the genus Plasmodium.
In Western countries, almost all malaria occurs in travelers; therefore, the diagnosis may be missed if a history of travel is not elicited.
Patients typically present with nonspecific symptoms such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, and myalgia.
Examination of a Giemsa-stained blood film remains the diagnostic test of choice.
Once diagnosis of malaria is confirmed, treatment should be started urgently, as a delay may be associated with disease progression and complications.
Management should be undertaken in conjunction with an infectious diseases specialist.
Thin-film Giemsa-stained micrographs showing ring-form Plasmodium vivax and P falciparum trophozoites
CDC Image Library/Steven Glenn, Laboratory & Consultation Division; used with permission