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What is Blackwater Fever?

Blackwater Fever is a severe complication of malaria, characterized by dark urine and kidney failure. It's a rare but life-threatening condition that demands immediate medical attention. Through vivid imagery, we'll guide you through its causes, symptoms, and treatments. How can understanding this illness save lives? Join us as we unveil the critical importance of recognizing Blackwater Fever.
Andy Josiah
Andy Josiah

Blackwater fever is a form of malaria that involves serious blood-related complications. It is caused when a protozoan parasite called Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) interacts with the body's red blood cells. Blackwater fever is thus occasionally referred to as falciparum malaria, which is considered the deadliest version of this infectious disease.

P. falciparum is transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito, which is notorious for being the agent of malaria. The parasite enters the liver and causes hemolysis, a process in which the red blood cells burst into the bloodstream. This releases an iron-containing oxygen transport protein called hemoglobin in excess amounts to the urine, a condition known as hemoglobinuria, which destroys the glomerulus, a part of the kidney responsible for filtering blood to form urine. Such a deterioration usually leads to kidney failure.

Blackwater fever is transmitted through mosquito bites.
Blackwater fever is transmitted through mosquito bites.

Discounting the high fever that accompanies it, the most common and identifiable symptom of blackwater fever is anuria, a condition that indicates non-passage of urine, or a passage of less than 50 mm of urine a day. Other symptoms include chills and convulsions, headache, passage of bloody stools, coma, nausea and vomiting, sweating and abdominal pain. Blackwater fever, like other forms of malaria, requires immediate medical attention and hospitalization, as it can be fatal within a few hours of the first appearance of its symptoms.

High fever accompanies blackwater fever.
High fever accompanies blackwater fever.

The most common form of blackwater treatment usually involves anti-malarial chemotherapy and a supply of intravenous fluids. In the more extreme cases, the patient is placed under intensive care and dialysis. Some of the symptoms of blackwater fever can be suppressed. For instance, patients can place ice packs on the forehead, take cold baths or drink herbal tea to reduce fever. Also, greater intake of fluids such as water and juice is encouraged to counteract the loss of protein as a result of blackwater fever.

Blackwater fever is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa.
Blackwater fever is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa.

Due to its classification as falciparum malaria, Blackwater fever is a major problem for people living in the tropical or subtropical areas of the world, where the Anopheles mosquito optimally thrives. It is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa, where as much as 75 percent of malaria cases are due to P. falciparum. Moreover, the World Health Organization reported that P. falciparum-induced malaria was accountable for about 91 percent of 247 million malarial infections as of 2006, with 98 percent of them in Africa. The occurrence of blackwater fever itself, however, has drastically decreased since 1950.

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    • Blackwater fever is transmitted through mosquito bites.
      By: hjschneider
      Blackwater fever is transmitted through mosquito bites.
    • High fever accompanies blackwater fever.
      By: Photographee.eu
      High fever accompanies blackwater fever.
    • Blackwater fever is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      Blackwater fever is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Extreme cases of blackwater fever will require a patient undergoing dialysis.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Extreme cases of blackwater fever will require a patient undergoing dialysis.
    • The most common form of blackwater fever treatment is anti-malarial chemotherapy and intravenous fluids.
      By: sudok1
      The most common form of blackwater fever treatment is anti-malarial chemotherapy and intravenous fluids.