Saving Lives and Protecting People from Parasitic Diseases

Parasitic diseases can be transmitted to people:

  • by insects or animals
  • through blood or organ donation
  • from mother to baby
  • through contaminated food or water

Fast and accurate diagnosis is critical for appropriate treatment of these infections.



Parasitic diseases, including malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), cause devastating illness and economic burden among millions of people around the world and in theUnited States, threatening local populations, businesses, travelers, and American defense forces.

  • 435,000 people died from malaria in 2017, and millions become ill each year, including almost 2,000 returning travelers in the United States.
  • 1 billion people are infected with NTDs that cause blindness, malnutrition, anemia, and disfigurement.
  • 300,000 people in the U.S. are infected with Chagas disease, and 300 infected babies are born every year.
  • Toxoplasmosis, a leading cause of foodborne illness, affects more than 40 million people in the U.S.and can cause acute and chronic illness, and death.

Scale up of proven interventions has led to:

  • Malaria deaths in Africa were cut by more than half.
  • 400 million people no longer require treatment for NTDs.
  • Guinea worm infections have dropped to fewer than 30 worldwide annually.

Improved education and awareness in the United States is also helping protect Americans from Chagas disease and neurocysticercosis.


CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria translates science into action.

  • Protecting Americans Working with healthcare providers to deliver life-saving diagnosis and treatment of parasitic diseases in the United States and disseminating up-to-date, data-driven guidelines and recommendations for public health partners and the public.
  • Eliminating the Global Burden of Malaria and NTDs Reducing global deaths, illnesses, and risks of malaria and NTDs by providing scientific leadership and support to ensure data-driven, effective disease control and elimination programs.
  • Advancing Research Conducting research to develop tools and approaches to better detect, prevent, and control parasitic diseases, mitigate drug and insecticide resistance, and accelerate progress towards elimination.
  • Co-implements with USAID the President’s Malaria Initiative in 24 countries and the Greater Mekong Subregion
  • Conducts more than 7,000 diagnostic tests each year, and offers DPDx, an online resource, to provide diagnostic assistance and training in laboratory identification of parasites
  • Serves as a global resource through its WHO centers of excellence for Guinea worm, malaria, and trachoma, and world-renowned insectary and laboratories
  • Leads Malaria Zero efforts to eliminate malaria from Haiti, and efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis from Haiti and American Samoa
  • Employs a highly sensitive laboratory multiplex assay that can simultaneously detect infections from more than 30 viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogens using a single, small blood sample
  • Uses Advanced Molecular Detection methods to modernize development of new tests for parasitic infections and to monitor for malaria drug and insecticide resistance
  • Modernize the diagnosis of parasitic diseases to keep pace with emerging parasites and advances in technology
  • Increase awareness, education, and available data on parasitic diseases in the U.S.
  • Continue scale up of proven interventions in countries
  • Expand and strengthen surveillance for data-driven decision making
  • Monitor and mitigate threats from malaria insecticide and drug resistance
  • Develop and deploy new tools and approaches
Page last reviewed: April 23, 2019