What are the different stages of the parasite's life cycle?
This small single-cell organism has three to four different forms. Each form is specialised in living in a certain place.
The gametocyte is the form that infects the mosquito and reproduces itself, as if it were both sexes. When the mosquito has sucked
blood containing gametocytes, these pass into the salivary glands of the mosquito, where they develop into a new form, the sporozoite. The infection
can then move on.
The sporozoite can be passed on to man when the mosquito bites, injecting its saliva into the tiny blood vessels. The sporozoite
travels with the blood to the liver and enters the liver cells. In the liver some of the sporozoites divide (tachysporozoites) and become thousands of
The merozoites are released from the liver to the blood where they are taken up by the red blood corpuscles. Some of these turn into
ring-formed trophozoites that split again to form schizonts.
burst the red blood corpuscles at a certain moment, releasing the merozoites. This release coincides with the violent rises in temperature during the
attacks seen in malaria.