Malaria After Blood Transfusion

QUESTION:

How many days does it take to become symptomatic after a blood transfusion of malaria infected blood to patient?

ANSWER:

This depends on the strain and burden of malaria parasites in the blood being transfused. Onset of malaria symptoms can be very rapid if infected red blood cells begin to rupture immediately, say within 24-48 hours, or conversely symptoms can be very delayed (days/weeks/months) if only a few parasites are transfused. Depending on strain, the malaria parasites may need to cycle through the liver to mature before they infect the red cells (such as in the case of Plasmodium vivax or P. ovale). ¬†Then, depending on the strain (P. vivax most commonly), the infected red cell “burden” often needs to approach 0.5 to 1% before synchronized rupture of red cells and release of the parasites is sufficient to produce acute fever and symptoms.