What is malaria?
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four different blood parasites, called Plasmodium.

How is malaria spread?
Malaria is spread by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. With certain malaria species, dormant forms can be produced which may cause relapses of malaria months to years later. Malaria may also be transmitted by transfusion of blood from infected people or by the use of contaminated needles or syringes.

Who gets malaria?
Any person residing in or traveling to a country where malaria is prevalent is at risk for contracting the disease. Malaria is currently a problem in tropical or subtropical areas of Asia, Africa and Central and South America. Most black Africans show a natural resistance to some species of malaria. Otherwise, susceptibility to malaria is universal.

What are the symptoms of malaria?
Symptoms include fever, chills, sweats, headaches, and in some instances may progress to jaundice, blood coagulation defects, shock, kidney or liver failure, central nervous system disorders and coma. Cycles of chills, fever and sweating occurring every one, two or three days is a good indicator of malaria in a person recently returning from a tropical area.

How soon do symptoms appear?
The time between the infective mosquito bite and the development of malaria symptoms can range from 12 to 40 day depending on the type of Plasmodia involved. One strain of Plasmodium, called P. vivax, may have a prolonged incubation period of eight to 10 months. When infection occurs by blood transfusion, the incubation period depends on the number of parasites transferred but is usually less than two months.

When and for how long is a person able to spread malaria?
Direct person-to-person transmission does not occur, however, untreated or inadequately treated cases may be a source of mosquito infection for one to three years depending of the strain of Plasmodium. Stored blood products can remain infective for 16 days.

What is the treatment for malaria?
Due to the changing pattern of drug-resistant strains, current recommendations can be obtained from your physician. Oral administration of chloroquine would be the primary treatment For emergency treatment of adults with serious illness, diluted IV quinine dihydrochloride may be administered.

What can be done to prevent the spread of malaria?
Since malaria is not native to the United States, exposure to American citizens occurs most frequently during foreign travel to areas endemic for malaria. It is very important to contact health officials to determine the proper preventive drug therapy. The liberal and frequent use of mosquito repellents as well as using a bed net can be very effective in preventing mosquito bites.


This fact sheet is for informational purposes only. It should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you think that you may have this infection, or have questions about the disease described above, you should consult your health care provider.


For additional information on this disease, visit the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention website.

To contact the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program, please call 860-509-7994.