What is Plasmodium Ovale Malaria?

Recently in the news that Plasmodium Ovale which is not a very common type of malaria has been identified in a soldier in Kerala. What is Plasmodium Ovale? Let us study in detail including various kinds of malarial parasites.
Plasmodium Ovale Malaria
Plasmodium Ovale Malaria

Plasmodium Ovale is not a very common type of malaria that has been identified in a soldier in Kerala who is believed to have contracted in Sudan during his posting, where Plasmodium Ovale is endemic. 

What is Malaria?

It is a serious and sometimes fatal disease of the blood that is caused by the plasmodium parasite which is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. The disease is preventable and curable.

Through the bites of infected female anopheles mosquitoes known as 'malaria vectors' parasites spread to people. Parasite species that cause malaria in humans are of 5 types namely Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax (the commonest ones), Plasmodium Malariae, Plasmodium Ovale, and Plasmodium Knowlesi. Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is the most serious one and may even be fatal.

What happens when a female anopheles mosquito bites a person?

When a female anopheles mosquito bites a person, the parasite is released into the bloodstream of that person. Parasites travel to the liver when they are inside the body and there they mature. After a few days, parasites that are matured enter the bloodstream and begin to infect the Red Blood Cells. Now, they start multiplying inside the red blood cells within 48 to 72 hours which causes the infected cells to burst and open. The parasites continue to infect red blood cells, resulting in symptoms that occur in cycles.

Hence, we can say that if someone is contracted with the Plasmodium Ovale type of malaria means that the person has been infected by that particular parasite.

What is the difference between Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases?

About Plasmodium Ovale

Plasmodium Ovale is termed as ovale because about 20% of the parasitised cells are oval in shape.

As per the scientists, P. ovale rarely causes severe illness. 

An emeritus professor at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi Dr. V S Chauhan said that P. Ovale is very similar to P vivax, which is not a killer form.


Fever for 48 hours, 

headache and 



The treatment modality is also the same as it is for a person infected with P. vivax. Further, he said that P ovale is no more dangerous than getting a viral infection.

It is also said that the parasite can remain in the spleen or liver of the person's body for a long time, even years, after the mosquito bite, and the person could become symptomatic later.

As per Dr. Chauhan, distinguishing between P vivax and P ovale may be tricky and can be differentiated through a good-quality lab.

Where is P ovale malaria-endemic?

It is endemic to tropical Western Africa. As per scientists at NIMR, P ovale is relatively unusual outside of Africa and, where found, comprises less than 1% of the isolates. 

In the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea also it has been detected but still relatively rare in these areas.

Now, let us have a look at the cases in India

- As per the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), the case of Kerala could be an isolated one, and cases of local transmission are not recorded so far.

- Previously, in Gujarat, Kolkata, Odisha, and Delhi isolated cases were reported but the local transmission was not recorded which means that these cases have been acquired.

- According to the WMR 2019, India represents 3% of the global malaria burden. Despite being the highest malaria burden country in the SEA region, India showed a reduction in reported malaria cases of 49% and deaths of 50.5% compared with 2017. 

- During recent years, India has made remarkable progress in reducing malaria incidence.  In malaria incidence in India, World Malaria Report has also documented the remarkable decline. In 2017, the estimated malaria cases were reduced by 24% as compared to 2016 and in 2018, 28% as compared to 2017.

- According to the recent World Malaria Report 2020, cases in India dropped from about 20 million in 2000 to about 5.6 million in 2019.

Malaria is a contagious disease or not?

Malaria is not a contagious disease that is it does not spread from person to person like a cold or the flu. Also, it cannot be sexually transmitted. Here to note that a person cannot get malaria from casual contact with malaria-infected people like sitting next to someone who has malaria.

Some common symptoms of Malaria are:

For most people, symptoms begin 10 days to 4 weeks after infection but a person may feel ill as early as 7 days or late as 1 year later. 

- High Fever
- Headache
- Nausea
- Vomiting
- Abdominal Pain
- Diarrhoea
- Anaemia
- Muscle Pain
- Profuse Sweating
- Shaking chills that can range from moderate to severe
- Convulsions
- Bloody stools
- Coma

Some of the life-threatening complications of malaria are:

- Blood vessels of the brain swell up or cerebral malaria.

- Organ failure of the kidneys, liver, or spleen.

- Low blood sugar

- Anaemia due to the destruction of red blood cells.

- Fluid accumulates in the lungs that cause breathing problems, or pulmonary edema.

Key facts of Malaria

According to WHO, 

- 229 million cases of malaria were estimated in 2019 worldwide.

- In 2019, the estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 409000.

- The most vulnerable group affected by malaria are the children aged under 5 years; in 2019 they accounted for 67% (274000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

- A disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden is carried by the WHO African Region. The region was home to 94% of malaria cases and deaths in 2019.

- In 2019, total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated US$ 3 billion. 

- The parasites of malaria requires two hosts- human and mosquitoes to complete its life cycle.

- World Malaria Day is observed on 25th April every year globally.

World Malaria Day 2020: Current Theme, History, and Significance


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