This is an excellent question, and it sounds like you are concerned that you might possibly have malaria, so you should discuss your concerns with your primary care physician
right away. First of all, it is important to note that malaria was eradicated in the United States some time ago, and thus the only way you could have malaria is if you have travelled to an endemic region of the world. In order to travel to such places you typically have to be on malarial prophylaxis medications--however, in many cases this involves taking the medication for several weeks after returning home. If medication instructions are not followed, it is possible to develop malaria even upon leaving an endemic malaria area. Symptoms of malaria include most classically persistent fevers, often in a cyclical pattern. Many patients will report headaches, chills, shakes, and abdominal pain
in addition to their fevers. The parasite infects red blood cells, and depending upon the parasite load and degree of infection, some of these red blood cells can be destroyed, cause symptoms of hemolytic anemia
(pallor, fatigue, even mild jaundice). Patients may also have a rash composed of small red dots around dependent areas such as ankles (caused by a low platelet count). If you recently traveled to a malaria endemic region of the world and are now feeling unwell, you should see your primary care physician right away for evaluation.