Malaria

Anopheles mosquito

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die. In 2017 an estimated 219 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 435,000 people died, mostly children in the African Region. About 2,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States each year. Almost all cases in the United States are imported by travelers and immigrants who were in countries where malaria transmission occurs.

Quiz

Key Facts

  • Malaria cases among travelers returning to the U.S. are the highest level they have ever been.
  • Malaria is preventable by taking antimalarial medication if traveling to an area with malaria.
  • Malaria is treatable if diagnosed in a timely manner.
  • People born in countries with malaria now living in the U.S. can still get malaria when visiting countries with malaria.
  • Symptoms of malaria can include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Media

Infographic - Malaria is transmitted among humans by female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles

Mosquitoes Spread Malaria

Only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria. When a mosquito bites an infected person, a small amount of blood is taken in which contains the malaria parasites. About 1 week later, when the mosquito bites the next person, these parasites mix with the mosquito’s saliva and are injected into the person being bitten.

Woman following various malaria prevention guidelines

Malaria Prevention

Malaria is dangerous, but preventable. When traveling to a country where malaria is present, it’s important to follow prevention guidelines: Take all doses of prevention medication prescribed by your doctor, use insect repellent, use insecticide-treated bed nets, and seek medical care if you develop a fever.

Family at airport, watching planes take off and land

Malaria and Travel

Malaria cases among travelers returning to the U.S. are the highest level they have ever been. Ninety-four percent of U.S. residents who contracted malaria did not take all prevention medicine.

Prevention Tips

  • Use malaria prevention medications for travel to areas with malaria.
  • Use insect repellent.
  • Wear protective clothing such as pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets, or in screened or air-conditioned accommodations.

More at CDC.gov

Page last reviewed: July 2, 2019