Question: how does malaria kill someone?

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  1. Hi Terry,

    Great question! Malaria can affect different people in different ways, and no two infections are identical. So while malaria kills people, it can cause death in different ways.

    One serious condition is called cerebral malaria, caused when malaria parasites stick in the blood vessels in the brain leading to deep coma, seizures and death. This affects really young kids the most, usually when they are still babies and is a very serious illness.

    Another problem during malaria infection is severe anemia, which is due to not having enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. Malaria infection causes the destruction of red blood cells in the body, and also interferes with the body’s ability to make new red blood cells. So the body becomes starved of oxygen which can lead to death.

    Malaria infection can also damage the lungs, and cause massive breathing difficulties. Patients affected this way often take huge deep breaths, almost like they are so hungry for air they can’t get enough in and out of their lungs fast enough. This is called respiratory distress, and one is the worst signs for malaria patients.

    And sometimes these conditions happen all together, and in combination are very bad for the survival of patients. I hope we eliminate malaria from the world soon….