Malaria overview NHS Choices

Malaria overview NHS Choices

Malaria overview from NHS Choices

How malaria is contracted

Malaria is a tropical disease passed on to humans by mosquitoes, and is present in over 100 countries. Malaria is spread by the female of the Anopheles species of mosquito. When one of these mosquitoes bites you, it feeds on your blood and injects malaria parasites into your body. It only takes one bite to infect you. In some forms of malaria, parasites can stay dormant in your body for years, occasionally “waking up” and causing you to have more attacks of malaria. However, you can’t catch malaria from another person, just from a mosquito.

There are four types of malaria:

  1. Plasmodium falciparum (malignant)
  2. Plasmodium vivax (benign)
  3. Plasmodium ovale (benign), and
  4. Plasmodium malariae (benign).

They’re all dangerous, but Plasmodium falciparum is considered to be the most serious. It’s responsible for most malaria fatalities. It can sometimes take a year or more for symptoms of Plasmodium vivax and ovale to appear, while Plasmodium falciparum usually starts within three months of being bitten. Occasional isolated outbreaks have been reported in England, particularly by airport workers, and those who have contact with items imported from other countries. Altogether, around 2,000 cases of malaria are brought into the UK each year.

Malaria predominantly affects countries in Africa, South and Central America, Asia and the Middle East. The disease is particularly widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, where over 90% of malaria-related deaths occur.

Almost two thirds of all malaria-related deaths occur among the poorest 20% of the world’s population.

In 1998 the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) joined forces to fund the Roll Back Malaria programme. Roll Back Malaria aims to halve malaria-related deaths by 2010.

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