The Plasmodium and Piroplasms are closely related members of the phylum Apicomplexa. The two groups are blood parasites that have differences in their life cycle. Most importantly is that the Plasmodium are transmitted by the mosquito arthropod vector while the Piroplasms are transmitted by the tick arthropod vector.
The Plasmodium are a very important cause of morbidity and mortality in the world as the causative agent of malaria. While the Piroplasms are the cause of Babesiosis an important emerging pathogen that appears to be spreading geographically due to increased travel from one endemic area to another and the warming climate of the planet.
The warming of the planet and increase in travel has also produced an increase in Plasmodium cases in normally non endemic geographical areas.
All of these organisms have fairly unique life cycles and the disease they produce is not only unique to the particular species but also to the immunologic state of the infected host. The reticuloendothelial system is primarily infected and symptoms are reflective of the developmental stage of the red blood cells infected; underlying diseases already present in the host; immunologic state of the host; pathogenicity of the organism; and other factors.
Click on any of the organisms below for a complete description of the Plasmodium (malaria) species or Piroplasm (Babesia) species.