What are the Causes of Malaria?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2019
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Bites from infected mosquitoes are one of the primary causes of malaria. In addition to mosquito bites, malaria can be spread through blood transfusions and from a mother to her unborn fetus. In the majority of cases, the causes of malaria are directly related to mosquito bites. When the disease is spread from a mother to her child or through a blood transfusion, it is likely that the blood became infected due to a bite from a mosquito that carried malaria. Mosquitoes occasionally carry malaria after becoming infected with a parasite that carries the disease; when the infected mosquito bites a person, the malaria may enter that person's bloodstream.

Even though malaria may seem easy to catch, it is not typically considered a worldwide problem. Mosquitoes that carry malaria are particularly prevalent in the tropical areas of Africa, India, and some central American countries. It is rare for people who live outside of these places to develop malaria, and when it happens, it is usually the result of a person having just returned from traveling to one of these locations. Just as mosquitoes can give malaria to people, however, a person with malaria can pass the disease to an uninfected mosquito, so there is a small chance that malaria could spread in a place where it is not prevalent if an infected person gets bitten by a mosquito after he returns home from traveling.


A person who develops malaria may not realize he has it right away. It can take as long as one year for the signs of malaria to appear, although it typically manifests much faster than that. People who have malaria initially have symptoms similar to the flu. They might experience fever, chills, and shaking along with nausea, high fever, and vomiting. If it isn't treated, malaria can be fatal. Treatment for malaria typically involves antibiotics along with certain antimalarial drugs, and it is usually very curable when it is caught early enough.

People who are concerned about the causes of malaria can take certain preventative measures if they are traveling to an area where it is a problem. Most doctors simply prescribe the same medications that are used to treat a person who already has malaria because these drugs are effective in preventing it as well. There is not a vaccine available to protect a person from the causes of malaria, but taking antimalarial drugs in addition to fighting off mosquitoes may be enough to keep the disease away. Many people who travel to areas where malaria is a threat make an effort to use insecticides on their clothes and sleeping areas in addition to sleeping underneath mosquito nets to try to prevent mosquito bites.



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