My child had a fever for 40 days after returning from a cruise 3 years ago. I begged the pediatrician to test for malaria because she got bit by something in Mexico but they laughed at me. She has had swollen lymph nodes on both sides of her neck for 3 years and all the docs tell me you can have swollen lymph nodes forever but now she has them in her groin and under arm on left side. She is pale and tired all the time. I took her back to the pediatrician and her cbc was normal so the dr is blowing it off. Malaria and Lymphoma are on my mind. My question is, Can malaria live in the body that long without it killing you?
Malaria can certainly survive in the body for a long time, but usually would present as recurring episodes of fever rather than enlarged lymph nodes (the malaria parasites reside dormant in the liver). There are two types of malaria that can reside in the body for extended periods: Plasmodium vivax and P. ovale. The former is found in parts Mexico, but cases of malaria are rare, especially in coastal areas. Unfortunately, malaria can only be detected when it enters the blood again – this occurs during the fever episodes. So, if your daughter does have a fever again, it might be worth asking for a malaria test, and specifically to look for P. vivax. If positive, there is a drug, primaquine, which can be taken to kill the remaining liver stages of malaria and prevent further relapses. However, overall, your daughter’s case doesn’t sound like malaria. What was your daughter’s Hb level? Anemia could explain the pallor and lethargy, though your pediatrician should have spotted that on the blood tests.