Protist diseases

Protists are a group of small organisms that have features that belong to animals, plants and fungi. They are a diverse group of organisms. Some are more like animals, others more like plants and some, called moulds, are closest to fungi. They are all eukaryotic, which means they have a nucleus.


Malaria is spread by mosquitos, which carry the Plasmodium protist. These are often found in areas with higher temperatures like Africa, Asia, and South and Central America, but not the UK because of our lower temperatures. Mosquitos suck blood containing the protists from an infected person. They pass the protist, to other people they suck blood from. The mosquitos do not become ill and are called 'vectors' because they transmit the disease.

The symptoms of malaria include a fever, sweats and chills, headaches, vomiting and diarrhoea. Damage is also caused to the blood and liver. Of the 200 million people infected each year, up to half die from this disease. There is no vaccination for malaria. Infection can only be prevented by stopping individuals from being bitten. People sleep under mosquito nets and wear insect repellent to avoid bites. Antimalarial drugs are also taken, which treat the symptoms and can prevent infection.