Malaria is caused by a parasitic infection transmitted to humans by mosquito bites, leading to severe symptoms such as high fevers and shivering chills. This disease is less common in temperate climates but continues to pose a significant health threat in tropical and subtropical regions. Efforts to combat malaria focus on preventing transmission and managing symptoms effectively.

Global health initiatives have been instrumental in reducing the impact of malaria by providing preventive medications and distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets to vulnerable populations. Additionally, the World Health Organization endorses a malaria vaccine for children living in high-risk areas, further bolstering efforts to curb the spread of this disease.

For individuals traveling to malaria-endemic areas, adopting protective measures such as wearing appropriate clothing, utilizing bed nets, and applying insecticides is crucial. Preventive medications are also recommended before, during, and after travel to these regions. However, the challenge of drug-resistant malaria parasites necessitates ongoing research and adaptation of treatment strategies.


Manifestations of malaria can encompass the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Cough
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General discomfort
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fatigue

Some individuals with malaria undergo cycles of “attacks,” typically initiating with shivering and chills, followed by a notable fever, and concluding with sweating and a return to normal temperature.

Onset of malaria signs and symptoms typically occurs within a few weeks post-mosquito bite in regions with malaria prevalence. It’s noteworthy that certain malaria parasites can remain dormant in the body for up to a year.

If residing in or visiting a high-risk malaria region, consult your doctor if you experience fever. In case of severe symptoms, prompt medical attention should be sought.


Malaria is instigated by a solitary-celled parasite belonging to the genus Plasmodium, primarily transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

The malaria cycle unfolds as follows:

  • Uninfected mosquito: A mosquito becomes infected by feeding on an individual with malaria.
  • Transmission of parasite: If this mosquito bites another person, it can transfer malaria parasites.
  • In the liver: Upon entering the new host, parasites travel to the liver, where certain types can remain dormant for up to a year.
  • Into the bloodstream: Mature parasites exit the liver, infecting red blood cells, triggering the onset of malaria symptoms.
  • On to the next person: If an uninfected mosquito bites the individual during this stage, it becomes infected with malaria parasites, ready to transmit them to subsequent individuals.

Malaria, driven by parasites that target red blood cells, can be transmitted through various means beyond mosquito bites. This includes transmission from mother to unborn child, via blood transfusions, or through the sharing of needles typically associated with drug injection. In these scenarios, exposure to infected blood poses the risk of contracting the disease, highlighting the diverse pathways through which malaria can spread beyond vector-borne transmission.

Risk factors

The primary risk factor for contracting malaria is residing in or visiting regions where the disease is prevalent, specifically in tropical and subtropical areas such as:

  • Central America and northern South America
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • South and Southeast Asia
  • Pacific Islands
  • Eastern Europe
  • Africa

The level of risk varies based on local malaria control, seasonal fluctuations in malaria rates, and the preventive measures taken to avoid mosquito bites.

Certain groups are at an elevated risk of severe disease, including:

  • Young children and infants
  • Older adults
  • Travelers from non-malarial areas
  • Pregnant women and their unborn children

In areas where malaria is highly prevalent, difficulties arise from insufficient access to preventive measures, medical services, and information. Furthermore, individuals in malaria-endemic regions may acquire partial immunity over time, which can lessen the severity of symptoms. However, this immunity may decline if a person moves to an area with lower exposure to the malaria parasite.