Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.

There are five parasite species that cause malaria in humans, with two of them – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – posing the most danger.

Malaria is an acute febrile illness. Symptoms typically include fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headaches; in severe cases, it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death. The symptoms usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite.

The disease is most commonly prevalent in African, South American, and South Asian countries. According to the World Health Organization, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2019, resulting in approximately 409,000 deaths.


Prevention strategies include the use of anti-malarial drugs and mosquito control measures like insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying.

Causes of Malaria

Malaria is primarily caused by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with a Plasmodium parasite. There are five kinds of Plasmodium parasites that can cause malaria in humans, namely Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium knowlesi. Here’s a more detailed explanation:

1. Plasmodium Infection: The Anopheles mosquito is a vector for the Plasmodium parasite, meaning it carries the parasite and can transmit it to humans. When an infected mosquito bites a person, the parasite is released into the person’s bloodstream.

2. Parasite’s Life Cycle: Once inside the body, the parasite travels to the liver, where it matures and reproduces. After several days, the mature parasites enter the bloodstream and begin to infect red blood cells. Within 48 to 72 hours, the parasites inside the red blood cells multiply, causing the infected cells to burst. This release of parasites triggers the symptoms of malaria.

It’s important to note that malaria can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, organ transplants, or the shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood. It can also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn baby before or during delivery.

Risk Factors of Malaria

Malaria is a disease that can be fatal if not treated promptly. It’s transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Below are some of the risk factors associated with malaria:

1. Geographical Location: The risk is highest in tropical and subtropical areas, especially in parts of Africa and Asia where the Anopheles mosquito thrives.

2. Climate: Malaria transmission is high in regions with warmer climates and consistent rainfall. Cold temperatures and dry climates reduce or eliminate the presence of the mosquito species responsible for transmitting malaria.

3. Time of Activity: These mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn. The risk for getting bitten, and thus become infected, is higher during these times.

4. Lack of Immunity: Individuals who lack immunity are at the greatest risk. This includes children under the age of 5, pregnant women, individuals with HIV/AIDS, and travellers or migrants coming from areas with low or no malaria transmission.

5. Poor Living Conditions: People living in poverty or in rural, undeveloped areas often lack adequate housing and access to healthcare, making them more susceptible to infection and serious illness.

6. Absence of Insect-Proof Housing and Bed Nets: Houses that are not properly sealed and do not have nets on windows or over beds allow mosquitoes to freely enter and infect inhabitants.

7. Not Taking Preventive Drugs: Travelers going to countries where malaria is prevalent are recommended to take preventive antimalarial drugs, which can significantly lower their risk of infection. Not taking these drugs raises the risk.

Remember, the best way to avoid malaria is to prevent mosquito bites through the use of repellents, protective clothing, and insecticide-treated bed nets, and take antimalarial medications if you’re traveling to high-risk areas. Always seek immediate medical attention if you develop symptoms such as fever, chills, and flu-like illness.

Signs and Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites, commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The signs and symptoms of malaria typically include:

1. High Fever: This could be periodic, occurring every 48 to 72 hours depending on the specific parasite you’re infected with. The cycle of fever, chills, and sweating is a common sign of malaria.

2. Chills and Sweating: These are common and are usually followed by a fever.

3. Headache: Most people with malaria experience a consistent, throbbing headache.

4. Vomiting and Nausea: A feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit is also a common symptom.

5. Diarrhea: Patients may experience bouts of diarrhea.

6. Tiredness and Fatigue: Malaria can make you feel tired and fatigued, even after ample rest.

7. Muscle Pain and Aches: Body aches and muscle pain are common symptoms of malaria.

8. Abdominal Pain: Some people might experience pain in the abdomen.

9. Anemia: Since malaria affects red blood cells, chronic infection can lead to anemia.

10. Jaundice: In severe cases, malaria can lead to jaundice due to the loss of red blood cells.

These symptoms typically appear within a few weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, in some cases, the parasites may stay dormant in the body for up to a year. If anyone starts exhibiting these symptoms and there’s a chance they could have been exposed to malaria, it’s critical to get medical attention immediately.

Diagnosis Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is a significant global health issue in many tropical and subtropical areas.

When an infected mosquito bites a person, the parasite gets transferred into the host’s bloodstream and then travels to the liver. There, they mature and produce another form, merozoites, that re-enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells. Inside the red blood cells, the parasites multiply, causing the infected cells to burst open. This leads to fever, chills, and flu-like illness in the host.

Symptoms include high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Without quick medical intervention, malaria can cause severe illness that can be life-threatening.

Diagnosis is typically made by identifying the parasites in a blood sample under a microscope. Alternatively, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) can also be used where laboratory resources are limited. The choice of treatment depends on several factors, including the species of malaria parasite, the severity of symptoms, the likelihood of complications, and the part of the world in which the infection was acquired.

Prevention of malaria often involves preventive medicines for travelers to high-risk areas, use of insect repellent, protective clothing, and insecticide-treated nets. There’s no effective vaccine for malaria yet, but research is ongoing.

Treatment of Malaria

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that infects a particular type of mosquito which feeds on humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved several types of treatment for malaria.

Here is a general rundown of the common treatment methods:

1. Antimalarial Drugs: The most common method for treating malaria is through the use of antimalarial drugs. These include chloroquine or artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Different types of malaria require different types of drugs. Therefore, it’s critical to know specifically which type of malaria one is infected with, to ensure the proper treatment is administered.

2. Hospitalization: For severe cases of malaria, hospitalization might be necessary. In severe malaria, clinical or laboratory evidence shows signs of vital organ dysfunction. This requires the administration of intravenous (IV) antimalarial drugs for at least 24 hours.

3. Supportive Measures: Supportive measures, such as rehydration with intravenous fluids, might also be necessary depending on the patient’s condition.

4. Prevention: While not really a treatment, preventing malaria (especially for travelers to areas where the disease is prevalent) is a key strategy in fighting the disease. These preventive measures could include the use of preventive antimalarial drugs, the use of mosquito nets impregnated with insecticides, and application of mosquito repellents.

Remember: The specific treatment will depend on things like the type of malaria, the likelihood of the patient having drug-resistant parasites in their body, the severity of symptoms, and the patient’s age and pregnancy status.

Malaria treatment should be started as soon as possible after a confirmed diagnosis. If you suspect that you or someone else has malaria, seek medical attention immediately.

Medications commonly used for Malaria

Treatment for malaria typically depends on the type of malaria, the severity of symptoms, the patient’s physical condition, and the geographical location where infection took place. However, the most commonly used medications for the treatment of malaria include:

1. Chloroquine (Aralen): Traditionally, chloroquine was the treatment of choice for most types of malaria. However, resistance to this drug is now common in some parts of the world.

2. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil): This is often used if chloroquine is unavailable or resistance has been detected. It’s used against P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale, and susceptible strains of P. falciparum.

3. Quinine and quinidine: These related drugs are among the oldest malaria medicines. They are used for severe malaria when first-line treatment options are not suitable or effective.

4. Artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem): This is a combination oral medication commonly used to treat uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria.

5. Mefloquine: Used as alternative treatment for chloroquine-resistant strains of P. falciparum. It’s often combined with artesunate as a treatment of malaria.

6. Atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone): A combination medication useful for prevention and treatment of P. falciparum malaria. It’s often used for travelers to malaria-endemic regions.

7. Doxycycline: Sometimes used as a part of combination therapy for uncomplicated malaria or for prevention in travellers.

8. Primaquine phosphate: Used to prevent relapses of P. vivax and P. ovale malaria.

These medications are typically prescribed by a healthcare professional following a malaria diagnosis. It’s important to take these medications exactly as prescribed and not to stop them early. Moreover, certain forms of malaria, like P. vivax and P. ovale, have dormant stages which require additional medication (like primaquine) to avoid relapse.

It’s also crucial to note that no medication is 100% effective in preventing malaria, so other strategies, such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets and bug repellants, also play an important role in prevention.

Prevention of Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.

1. Sleeping Inside a Mosquito Net: The use of a mosquito net, particularly long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), is a common and highly effective way to prevent malaria infections, because Anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit malaria, generally bite at night.


2. Spray Insecticides: Indoor residual spraying (IRS) with insecticides is another powerful way to quickly reduce malaria transmission.

3. Antimalarial Medications: The use of antimalarial medications, particularly for travelers to malaria-prone regions, can help prevent infection.

4. Prevent Mosquito Breeding: This can involve covering up or removing standing water sources where mosquitoes tend to breed. Proper waste management, water drainage, and improved sanitation can also make areas less attractive for mosquitoes.

5. Use of Protective Clothing: Covering up the body with clothing, particularly during peak mosquito activity hours (twilight periods—dawn and dusk) can prevent mosquito bites.

6. Vaccination: There are ongoing efforts to develop a more effective vaccine for malaria. As of now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed the use of RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) – the first and, to date, the only vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children.

7. Community Awareness and Education: Spreading awareness and education about malaria signs, symptoms, transmission, prevention, control measures and the importance of seeking timely medical help is also key to malaria prevention.

Remember that it’s always advisable to seek professional health advice before planning any activities related to malaria prevention. Different regions may have different species of mosquitoes and different degrees of malaria transmission, hence requiring different prevention methods.

FAQ’s about Malaria

1. What is Malaria?
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

2. What are the symptoms of Malaria?
Symptoms usually include high fever, chills, sweats, headaches, vomiting, and fatigue. Severe cases can result in yellow skin, seizures, coma, or even death.

3. How is Malaria transmitted?
Malaria is transmitted through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It can also spread from a mother to her unborn child or through blood transfusions.

4. Where is Malaria commonly found?
Malaria is commonly found in subtropical and tropical regions, including parts of the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia.

5. How can Malaria be prevented?
Malaria can be prevented by using insect repellent, sleeping under mosquito nets, and taking antimalarial medications. Travelers visiting areas with a high risk of malaria should take preventive measures.

6. Is there a vaccine for Malaria?
As of 2021, the first malaria vaccine, RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S), has been recommended by WHO for children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.

7. What is the treatment for Malaria?
Malaria is treated with prescription medications, including oral tablets and injections. The type of medication and length of treatment depends on the specific type of malaria parasite you were infected with, the severity of your symptoms, and your overall health.

8. Can Malaria be cured?
Yes, malaria can be cured with prescription medications, as long as it is recognized and treated promptly. However, certain types of malaria parasites may remain dormant in the liver and cause relapses.

9. What’s the impact of Malaria globally?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 229 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2019, leading to over 400,000 deaths. The majority of the deaths occur among children in Africa.

10. Who is at risk for Malaria?
All people who live in or travel to areas where malaria is present are at risk. The risk is particularly high for pregnant women, infants, children under 5 years old, and people with HIV/AIDS.

Remember to seek immediate medical attention if you believe you may have malaria, particularly if you have recently traveled to an area where the disease is common.

Useful links

Malaria is a life-threatening disease transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium parasite. It mainly affects tropical and subtropical countries, but it can also occur in temperate regions. Here are some useful links from academic journals for you to read more about Malaria:


Note: The access to some of these articles might require a subscription to the specified journal, or a fee to read the full text. Contact your institutional library for access help.

Complications of Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Here are some complications that can occur if malaria is left untreated:

1. Anemia: This is caused by the destruction of the red blood cells by malaria parasites. It can lead to weakness, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to infections.

2. Cerebral malaria: In severe cases, malaria can affect the brain, causing seizures, loss of consciousness, or even coma. This can lead to long-term neurological problems.

3. Organ failure: Malaria can lead to the failure of various organs such as the kidneys or liver, or even cause the lungs to fill with fluid resulting in respiratory distress.

4. Hypoglycemia: This is a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of glucose in the blood. It can be caused by quinine, a medication typically used in the treatment of malaria.

5. Malaria during pregnancy: It can cause premature birth, low birth weight, or stillbirth.

6. Recurring malaria: Some types of malaria parasites, which continue to linger in the liver even after treatment, can reactivate causing relapses of malaria symptoms.

7. Malaria complications can be deadly especially for children, pregnant women, people with HIV/AIDS, and other immunocompromised individuals.

These complications underline the importance of taking preventive measures against malaria, and of getting immediate medical help at the start of any symptoms.

Home remedies of Malaria

Home remedies can be used to manage mild symptoms of malaria. They should never replace professional medical advice and treatment. Malaria is a serious disease that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. If you think you may have contracted malaria, you should visit a healthcare professional immediately.

Here are some home remedies to help alleviate some symptoms or to support the recovery process:

1. Ginger: Ginger has been renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties and it can help to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, fever, and inflammation caused by malaria.

2. Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes are high in Vitamin C which helps boost the immune system and fight off infections.

3. Green tea: Green tea contains polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

4. Warm Water: Keeping the body hydrated is important under any kind of sickness. Drinking warm water can detox the body and ease the symptoms of malaria.

5. Cinnamon: Cinnamon has been known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as being an antioxidant.

6. Basil Leaves: These are often used for their anti-bacterial properties. Boiling basil leaves with some black pepper can help bring down a fever, a common symptom of malaria.

7. Turmeric: Turmeric is well-known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce symptoms of malaria.

Remember, these home remedies are not intended as a treatment for malaria. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you have malaria. These remedies can be used along with the treatment prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Categorized in:

Infectious Diseases,

Last Update: January 3, 2024