DAVID SCHARF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID SCHARF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Malaria infected red blood cell. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a human red blood cell infected with a Plasmodium parasite protozoan, the causative agent of malaria. The parasite is transmitted by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. It enters the body and moves to the liver where it reproduces asexually to form the merozoite stage of its life cycle. The merozoites leave the liver cells and enter the bloodstream where they infect red blood cells, feeding on their haemoglobin. The parasites again reproduce asexually and periodically break free from the cells to infect fresh cells. Infection causes the red blood cells to become mis-shapen and more likely to stick to blood vessel walls and cause a clot. Magnification: x23,100 when printed at 10 centimetres wide.
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