What is Malaria?

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. Malaria produces recurrent attacks of chills and fever.

While the disease is uncommon in temperate climates, malaria is still prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries, including parts of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Each year, there are approximately 515 million cases of malaria, killing an estimated 660,000 people each year, the majority of whom are young children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is commonly associated with poverty, but is also a cause of poverty and a major hindrance to economic development. World health officials are trying to reduce the incidence of malaria by distributing bed nets to help protect people from mosquito bites as they sleep. Scientists around the world are working to develop a vaccine to prevent malaria.

Infection with malaria parasites may result in a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from absent or very mild symptoms to severe disease and even death. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. In general, malaria is a curable disease if diagnosed and treated promptly and correctly. Treatment depends on many factors including disease severity, the species of malaria parasite causing the infection and the part of the world in which the infection was acquired.

If you’re traveling to locations where malaria is common, take preventive medicine before, during and after your trip. Many malaria parasites are now immune to the most common drugs used to treat the disease.