Once the parasites enter the body, they travel to the liver, where they multiply. They invade the red blood cells, which are important cells in the blood that carry oxygen. The parasites get inside them, lay their eggs, and multiply until the red blood cell bursts.
This releases more parasites into the bloodstream. As they attack more of the healthy red blood cells, this infection can make a person feel very sick.
Types of MalariaThere are five species of Plasmodium parasites that affect humans. Two of them are considered the most dangerous:
- P. falciparum. This is the most common malaria parasite in Africa, and it causes the most malaria-related deaths in the world. P. falciparummultiplies very quickly, causing severe blood loss and clogged blood vessels.
- P. vivax . This is the malaria parasite most commonly found outside of sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Asia and Latin America. This species can lie dormant, then rise up to infect your blood months or years after the mosquito bite.