Malaria

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow
Learn how to prevent malaria when traveling abroad.

Malaria Prevention

Many travelers to tropical countries are concerned about the possibility of contracting malaria, a potentially fatal infection transmitted by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito. While malaria is most common in Africa, the disease occurs in over 100 countries.

Quick GuideTravel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

Travel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

Malaria facts

  • More than 198 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide in 2013.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 600,000-800,000 people died of malaria in 2012; the vast majority are young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • About 1,500 cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, usually in travelers returning from endemic areas.
  • Malaria was a serious public-health threat in the U.S. until it was eliminated during the 1920s-1940s. Much of the early work done by the CDC focused on controlling and eliminating malaria in the U.S.

What is malaria?

Malaria is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease spread by mosquitoes and caused by a parasite. Malaria was a significant health risk in the U.S. until it was eliminated by multiple programs in the late 1940s. The illness presents with flu-like symptoms that include high fever and chills.

There are three necessary aspects to the malaria life cycle:

  1. The Anopheles mosquito carries the parasite and is where the parasite starts its life cycle.
  2. The parasite (Plasmodium) has multiple subspecies, each causing a different severity of symptoms and responding to different treatments.
  3. The parasite first travels to a human's liver to grow and multiply. It then travels in the bloodstream and infects and destroys red blood cells.

Is malaria contagious?

Malaria can spread without a mosquito. This occurs rarely and is usually found in a transmission from the mother to the unborn child (congenital malaria), by blood transfusions, or when intravenous-drug users share needles.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/21/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Malaria - Symptoms

    What were your malaria symptoms and signs?

    Post View 18 Comments
  • Malaria - Causes

    How did you contract malaria?

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Malaria - Prognosis

    What was your malaria prognosis?

    Post
  • Malaria - Treatment

    What malaria treatments and medications did you receive?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors