Can a malaria infection cause severe breathing problems?

Malaria. Complicated malaria can cause occlusion of small blood vessels due to parasite filled cells. This can cause cerebral malaria. Also pulmonary edema ( water logged lungs) can occur from a similar process. This can lead to shortness of breath. Usually this is a serious disease.
Yes. Malaria can present with a multitude of symptoms. It is very serious, so if you suspect malaria you should go to your local emergency room and politely insist that a blood test be done today. Symptoms can develop up to 3 months after travel to an area with malaria. Typical symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle aches, anemia; severe symptoms include seizures, kidney & respiratory failure, death.