A parasite causes the disease. An infected mosquito passes the parasite to you through a bite on your skin. It settles in the liver and multiplies. Over time, it moves into red bloods, where it can kill them or spread to other red blood cells.
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Your risk may be higher if you live in or travel to tropical climates. This includes Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Preventive steps can help lower the risk.
Symptoms appear 10 days to 4 weeks after a mosquito bite. Medicines to prevent malaria can delay symptoms.
If you traveled to places where malaria is common and you feel sick, call your doctor right away.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, and health and travel history. You will also have:
Medicines will kill the parasite. The type of medicine depends on:
If you travel to areas where malaria is common:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Public Health Agency of Canada
Travel Health and Safety
Malaria. Center for Disease Control website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/malaria/index.html. Updated May 10, 2018. Accessed May 11, 2018.
Malaria. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114919/Malaria . Updated April 13, 2018. Accessed May 11, 2018.
Malaria and travelers for US residents. Center for Disease Control website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/index.html. Updated September 11, 2017. Accessed May 11, 2018.
Malaria prophylaxis for travelers. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115771/Malaria-prophylaxis-for-travelers . Updated April 13, 2018. Accessed May 11, 2018.
Mosquito avoidance. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115142/Mosquito-avoidance . Updated November 21, 2016. Accessed May 11, 2018.
Reimer LJ, Thomsen EK, Tisch DJ, et al. Insecticidal bed nets and filariasis transmission in Papua New Guinea. N Eng J Med. 2013;369(8):745-753.
8/31/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115142/Mosquito-avoidance : Enayati A, Hemingway J, Garner P. Electronic mosquito repellents for preventing mosquito bites and malaria infection. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(2):CD005434.
8/20/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114919/Malaria : Purssell E, While AE. Does the use of antipyretics in children who have acute infections prolong febrile illness? A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pediatr. 2013;163(3):822-827.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/11/2018