Malaria from Vietnam War


If my husband contracted malaria from serving in the Vietnam War but has never been treated for it, what are the symptoms that he might have experienced in the past that could have been caused by malaria but not diagnosed correctly?

Also is it possible that malaria infection could cause any type of birth defects to his children?



Most people with primary malaria infection experience fevers, chills, sweats, muscle and joint aches, often accompanied by headache, nausea and diarrhea. While these symptoms resemble those of other illnesses that cause fever, these are often more severe in malaria and tend to recur in one, two, or three day cycles.

Certain forms of malaria can relapse  years after infection, and the symptoms of these relapses are similar to the initial (primary) infection.  Anemia, enlarged spleen, and low platelets are also common abnormalities in malaria. If your husband experiences any episodes of these symptoms, blood tests taken during fever might help determine if the malaria parasite is present. Other blood tests can determine if he’s been infected in the past.

While maternal malaria during pregnancy can increase the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes, malaria is not known to increase the risk of birth defects from father to child.



  1. James Patrick Allen says

    My husband has symptoms similar to the ones deiscribed in recurrences of Malaria. He served in Viet Nam in 1968-1969 and has had this recurring high fever (104.9), chills, etc. a few times since then. Is this Malaria?

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    • Claire Standley, Editor says

      Malaria is a possibility – the best option would be to go for a blood test while you husband is experiencing high fever and the other symptoms. During this time, if malaria is causing the symptoms, the malaria parasites should be visible in his blood, and thus the doctor will be able to prescribe appropriate treatment.

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