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Life Cycle

CDC - DPDx/ Alexander J. da Silva, PhD, Melanie Moser
  • Mosquito feeds on an infected person who has circulating gametocytes
  • Sporogeonic (sexual) cycle occurs in the mosquito
  • Mosquito feeds on susceptible person injecting sporozoites
  • Sporozoites travel through blood vessels to the liver and infects liver cells
  • Parasite grows to schizont stage where it ruptures merozoites
  • Merozoites infect red blood cells in the circulation
  • First stage immature trophozoite (ring form) grows to mature trophozoite that multiplies for binary fission asexually to become a mature schizont
  • Mature schizonts rupture releasing merozoites that can infect more RBCs
  • After several cycles, merozoites differenciate into male and female gametocytes
  • Gametocytes can then be ingested by a mosquito taking a blood meal and the cycle begins again
  • In cases of P. vivax and P. ovale hypnozoites form in the liver and can reactivate malaria months or years later for a true relapse