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. Each
year 350-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, and over one million people die, most of them
young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
This sometimes fatal disease can be prevented and cured. Bednets, insecticides, and antimalarial
drugs are effective tools to fight malaria in areas where it is transmitted. Travelers to a malaria-risk
area should avoid mosquito bites and take a preventive antimalarial drug.
What is malaria?
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite. Patients with malaria typically
are very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Four kinds of malaria parasites can
Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale,
Infection with any of the malaria species can make a person feel very ill; infection with
not promptly treated, may be fatal. Although malaria can be a fatal disease, illness and death from
malaria are largely preventable.
Is malaria a common disease?
Yes. The World Health Organization estimates that each year 300-500 million cases of malaria occur
and more than 1 million people die of malaria. About 1,300 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the
United States each year. The vast majority of cases in the United States are in travelers and
immigrants returning from malaria-risk areas, many from sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian
Is malaria a serious disease?
Yes. Malaria is a
leading cause of death and disease
worldwide, especially in developing countries.
Most deaths occur in young children. For example, in Africa, a child dies from malaria every 30
seconds. Because malaria causes so much illness and death, the disease is a great drain on many
national economies. Since many countries with malaria are already among the poorer nations, the
disease maintains a vicious cycle of disease and poverty.
Wasn’t malaria eradicated years ago?
No, not in all parts of the world. Malaria has been eradicated from many developed countries with
temperate climates. However, the disease remains a major health problem in many developing
countries, in tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
was started in the 1950s, but it failed globally because of problems including
the resistance of mosquitoes to insecticides used to kill them, the resistance of malaria parasites to
drugs used to treat them, and administrative issues. In addition, the eradication campaign never
involved most of Africa, where malaria is the most common.