Falciparum Malaria

Falciparum malaria was one of the two types found in VN, the other being vivax. There are four general types of malaria in the world, and we were exposed to two of them.

Most who had malaria in VN had one type or the other, but it is possible to have both types and to have them simultaneously.

Various strains of falciparum malaria exist, and the one common to VN is the deadliest of the bunch.

Vivax produces the traditional fever and chills commonly associated with malaria and makes the victim feel as if he is going to die, but he usually doesn't die of this variety.

Falciparum malaria doesn't produce alternating fever and chills. It produces a fever which rises steadily and rapidly until the victim looses consciousness. The body temperature continues to rise, and death commonly results from brain damage.

Since the practice in the field was not to evacuate malaria victims until the fever reached a high level (usually more than 102 degrees F.), some brain damage had already occurred to the sub-cortical white matter before the victim reached medical help and treatment began.

Falciparum (cerebral) malaria gives symptoms which can be confused with PTSD, such as irritability, memory loss, rage, sleeplessness, tendency toward violence, flashbacks, etc. Bad news for someone who has PTSD and has to deal with a condition which aggravates the PTSD.

The good news in all of this is that falciparum malaria does not re-occur unless the victim is reinfected. Getting even better, there is a simple treatment which reduces most, if not all, the damage done by falciparum malaria and gives most of the victims substantial relief.

A recent study done at the University of Iowa on VN Vets is the basis for the summary given above.

Any vet who has both PTSD and has had falciparum malaria should see what can be done to treat the malaria residuals. This may result in a lowering of his rating for PTSD but should give a compensating rating increase for malaria. The end result should be that the vet has a better life and still has the same VA rating.

More information available upon request.

Gary Allord

Revised 04-01-98 by DGS