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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Malaria. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Plasmodium falciparum

Plasmodium falciparum is a unicellular protozoan parasite and considered one of the deadliest species of Plasmodium. It is thought to be responsible for roughly 50% of all malaria cases. The species originated from the malarial parasite Laverania found in gorillas, around 10,000 years ago.
Hemoglobin S (caused by a mutated beta globin gene) alone or in combination with any other hemoglobin variant offers some protection against P. falciparum. Hereditary ovalocytosis is thought to prevent cerebral malaria in infected patients by preventing microvascular obstruction. There is also an association with the development of Burkitt’s lymphoma in patients with P. falciparum.
Of the 216 million cases of malaria reported worldwide in 2016 by the WHO, 445,000 resulted in death. Almost every malarial death is caused by P. falciparum and 91% of deaths occur in Africa. The most affected are children under five years of age and they account for two-thirds of total deaths. In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 75% of malarial cases were due to P. falciparum.