Plasmodium falciparum, SEM

Plasmodium falciparum, SEM

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Caption: Plasmodium falciparum merozoites released from lysed red blood cells (erythrocytes), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Malaria is caused by Plasmodium spp., parasitic single-celled protozoans called plasmodia. Malaria is spread to humans by species of tropical mosquitoes (Anopheles species). Infection spreads from the liver to the blood, where the plasmodium multiplies inside red blood cells. The plasmodial parasite reproduces asexually in the red blood cells significantly destroying many red blood cells. There are four stages of the parasite that develop in human red blood cells, merozoite stage, ring stage, trophozoite stage and schizont stage. Release of mature Plasmodium merozoites results in further infection and produces bouts of shivering fever (paroxysms) and sweating that may be fatal. Magnification: x1,600 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.

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