CDC & Malaria

Key points

  • CDC helped eliminate malaria in the United States in the early 1950s.
  • Today, CDC works to prevent malaria among people traveling to areas where malaria is widespread.
  • CDC works with international partners to reduce the number of malaria cases and deaths across the globe.
  • CDC helps evaluate the effectiveness of new tools to prevent and treat malaria and new strategies to track and use data on malaria illness and death.


CDC helped eliminate malaria as a major public health problem in the U.S. in the early 1950s. The U.S. reports about 2,000 cases of malaria in a typical year. Most of these cases are in people traveling to areas where malaria continues to spread and then returning to the U.S. Anopheles mosquitoes capable of transmitting malaria ("vectors") exist in the U.S. Thus, there is a constant risk that malaria transmission can resume in the U.S.

What CDC is doing in the U.S.

To continue to prevent illness and deaths due to malaria, CDC works within this country to

  • Administer the National Malaria Surveillance System.
  • Assist state health departments with investigations of locally acquired malaria.
  • Develop malaria prevention and treatment guidelines for U.S. clinicians.
  • Consult with clinicians, providing advice on the diagnosis and treatment of malaria in the U.S.

What CDC is doing internationally

CDC has a long history of collaboration with Ministries of Health and other partners to fight malaria. CDC provides technical expertise in policy development, program guidance and support, scientific research, and monitoring and evaluation of progress toward Roll Back Malaria Partnership goals. CDC also conducts strategically targeted research to ensure we are prepared to confront the changes in malaria epidemiology. Factors that influence these changes include scaling up malaria interventions, climate change, and population movement.

CDC continues to build on this base of strategically targeted research and program implementation through our work to support the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative, an ambitious interagency initiative designed to greatly reduce malaria deaths and cases in countries that account for 80 percent of the world's malaria burden—contributing to the global goals of saving more than 4 million lives and averting over 1 billion cases by 2025.


CDC's malaria research program aims to improve our understanding of risk factors for malaria infection, disease, and death and to yield better methods for fighting the disease. Much of our research is focused on evaluation of new vector control tools or pharmaceutical-based strategies (drugs, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies) to prevent malaria. This research is conducted in collaboration with other institutions and combines field and laboratory activities.

Field investigations provide insights in mechanisms of transmission and host responses. The studies often yield biological specimens that provide valuable information when studied further in laboratories in the United States and overseas.

The laboratories (augmented by insectaries) conduct more basic studies, whose findings can be in turn verified or expanded during field investigations. CDC's malaria research laboratories serve as a WHO Collaborating Center for malaria.