How Cerebral Malaria Attacks the Brain

Most clinicians know that cerebral #malaria, a complication associated with the all-too-common mosquito-borne virus that affects much of the developing world, can be deadly; however, relatively little is known about exactly how the disease attacks the human #brain.

That may be changing. Using mouse models the authors of a study demonstrated that cytotoxic #T-cells attack cerebral blood vessels leading to swelling in the brain. They believe that their findings mirror how cerebral malaria affects the human brain. The complication is associated with Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the most dangerous form of the virus. Exact figures on its incidence are not available; however, it is believed that more than 500,000 children develop cerebral malaria annually in Africa alone, and that it causes as many as 1 million deaths worldwide each year. It is fatal in as many as 30% of the people it afflicts. Sufferers typically experience seizures and may lapse into a coma.

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