How can a person get malaria?

Malaria is caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium. This parasite is injected into your blood (body) by the bite of the female anopheles mosquitoes.

When a mosquito bites an infected person, a small amount of blood is taken in which contains very tiny malaria parasites. After about a week, when the mosquito takes its next blood meal, these parasites mix with the mosquito’s ‘saliva’ and are injected into another person being bitten.

Because the malaria parasite is found in the red blood cells of an infected person, malaria can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or the shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood.

It can also be passed on from mother to child in (called congenital malaria) childbirth. This can be very fatal. All expecting mothers must try to keep away from being infected.

Malaria risk areas

Malaria is found in more than 100 countries, mainly in tropical regions of the world including:

  • Large areas of Africa and Asia
  • Central and South America
  • Haiti and the Dominican Republic
  • Parts of the Middle East
  • Some Pacific islands, such as Papua New Guinea

There are only about 2,000 cases of malaria that are diagnosed in the United States each year.