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Symptoms

Symptoms of malaria can develop as quickly as 7 days after you're bitten by an infected mosquito.

Typically, the time between being infected and when symptoms start (incubation period) is 7 to 18 days, depending on the specific parasite you're infected with. However, in some cases it can take up to a year for symptoms to develop.

The initial symptoms of malaria are flu-like and include:

  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • feeling hot and shivery
  • headaches
  • vomiting
  • muscle pains
  • diarrhoea
  • generally feeling unwell

These symptoms are often mild and can sometimes be difficult to identify as malaria.

With some types of malaria, the symptoms occur in 48-hour cycles. During these cycles, you feel cold at first with shivering. You then develop a high temperature, accompanied by severe sweating and fatigue. These symptoms usually last between 6 and 12 hours.

The most serious type of malaria is caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. Without prompt treatment, this type could lead to you quickly developing severe and life-threatening complications, such as breathing problems and organ failure.

Read more about the complications of malaria.

Seek medical advice immediately if you develop symptoms of malaria during or after a visit to an area where the disease is found.

You should still seek medical help even if it's several weeks, months or a year after you return from travelling.