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LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis being treated for malaria, withdraws from game

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Glamorous golf pro Natalie Gulbis has been forced to withdraw from this week's RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix because she has malaria, the LPGA announced March 13. ESPN reports that Gulbis first became ill while playing in Singapore two weeks ago. She is being treated at home and is expected to make a complete recovery. The LPGA notes:

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... tournament founding partner Scottsdale Healthcare will be on-site in Phoenix on Wednesday to provide blood draw for players, caddies and family members wishing to be screened.

George Clooney is another high-profile celeb who has suffered with malaria. Reuters reports that he caught the illness, for the second time, during a visit to the Sudan in Jan. 2011. Clooney is heavily involved with humanitarian efforts in that war-torn nation.

Malaria is caused by one of five species of Plasmodium parasites that can be carried from person to person by mosquitoes, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tell us. Symptoms of uncomplicated malaria often resemble the flu, with fever, chills, sweats, body aches, nausea and vomiting and headaches. The illness can be more severe and even fatal, since the parasite infects and then kills the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.

With two of the species of malaria parasites, relapses can occur. The may happen months or years after the initial illness has been treated. The two malaria species will seed the liver with dormant parasites that become active after some time has passed.

Treatment for malaria is based on the species infecting the patient. The location where the patient became infected is also important to treating the illness. Medications are normally given orally but a seriously ill patient may require the use of an IV for drug administration.

Prevention involves the use of medications, which may differ depending on the patient's location. The use of repellent and netting, to prevent mosquito bites, is used in conjunction with the drugs. Malaria was eliminated in the U.S. in the early 1950's and nearly all of the 1,500 malaria cases seen annually were acquired outside the country.

Gulbis had this to say on her Twitter feed, @natalie_gulbis:

I am bummed to not be able to play this weeks LPGA Event in Arizona and appreciate all the sweet comments on Twitter from everyone...

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