What is the percentage of red blood cell that is lost at the onset of malaria symptoms?
This depends entirely on the severity of the malaria infection, and also the type of malaria. Malaria parasites, called Plasmodium, invade red blood cells and use them for rapid, asexual reproduction. After a certain number of multiplications, the parasites burst out from the red blood cell, destroying it. This process leads to the reduction in red blood cells, and causes anaemia in the patient. The most deadly type of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, takes just 24 hours to complete its cycles of reproduction. Therefore it can very rapidly produce many more parasites, which spread quickly through the blood, reducing the number of red blood cells very quickly.