The complexities of malaria disease manifestations with a focus on asymptomatic malaria

Malar J. 2012 Jan 31:11:29. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-11-29.


Malaria is a serious parasitic disease in the developing world, causing high morbidity and mortality. The pathogenesis of malaria is complex, and the clinical presentation of disease ranges from severe and complicated, to mild and uncomplicated, to asymptomatic malaria. Despite a wealth of studies on the clinical severity of disease, asymptomatic malaria infections are still poorly understood. Asymptomatic malaria remains a challenge for malaria control programs as it significantly influences transmission dynamics. A thorough understanding of the interaction between hosts and parasites in the development of different clinical outcomes is required. In this review, the problems and obstacles to the study and control of asymptomatic malaria are discussed. The human and parasite factors associated with differential clinical outcomes are described and the management and treatment strategies for the control of the disease are outlined. Further, the crucial gaps in the knowledge of asymptomatic malaria that should be the focus of future research towards development of more effective malaria control strategies are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Asymptomatic Diseases*
  • Female
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / immunology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / physiopathology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antigens, Protozoan