Around the World: Malaria ― An Update

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.4 billion people live in 106 countries and territories where they are at risk of malaria. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2013 malaria was responsible for about 500,000 deaths.

Developing a vaccine for the disease has been difficult because of the biology of the parasite. However, recently, scientists reported promising results from a candidate malaria vaccine trial that enrolled more than 15,000 children from seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Because malaria affects so many people around the world, we wanted to provide some information about the disease and how it spreads:

  • Cause: Malaria is caused by four different species of parasites.
  • Transmission: Malaria is transmitted to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes.  In many places, transmission is seasonal, with the peak occurring during and just after the rainy season.
  • Symptoms of illness: In a non-immune person, symptoms usually appear about one week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting and headaches. If left untreated, malaria can cause more serious symptoms including low levels of red blood cells and difficulty breathing.
  • Ways to protect yourself and your family: If you are traveling to a location where you will be at risk for malaria infection, make sure to inquire about anti-malarial medications. It is also important to use long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) while you are sleeping, and make sure that the area you will be lodging uses residual insecticide sprays, which remain active over extended periods of time after dispersal.

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.