Question: My dad (73 years) grew up in Africa while his dad worked as an engineer. He got malaria really bad as a young child and my Nana said her once bright child who knew several languages seemed to never be the same after his malaria.
I’m guessing he had a bit of brain damage from it. He’s always been a bit odd and quirky. Never quite getting the whole picture on things. Slow to learn. Poor decision making. Fierce temper at times, otherwise very docile. Has weird nervous expressions. But recently my mum noted his nervous habit of clicking in his throat is getting worse when at home. I suspect he has a certain level of anxiety that he is good at hiding. I’m sure most of his current mental state is due to his malaria. I guess I was wondering how common these nervous twitches and habits are with malaria sufferers
Answer: Long-term neurological impacts of severe malaria, especially when experienced as a young child, are tragically quite common. It is more rare to last throughout a lifetime, but certainly possible. Here is a link to a review article which describes some of the neurological complications of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, the most common type of malaria in Africa and the one which usually causes the most severe disease: Mishra & Newton, 2010