Key Facts About Malaria
- Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes.
- About 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria.
- Young children, pregnant women and non-immune travellers from malaria-free areas are particularly vulnerable to the disease when they become infected.
- Malaria is preventable and curable, and increased efforts are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places.
- Between 2000 and 2015, malaria incidence among populations at risk (the rate of new cases) fell by 37% globally. In that same period, malaria death rates among populations at risk fell by 60% globally among all age groups, and by 65% among children under 5.
- Sub-Saharan Africa carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 88% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths.
Symptoms of Malaria
Malaria is an acute febrile illness. In a non-immune individual, symptoms appear 7 days or more (usually 10–15 days) after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms – fever, headache, chills and vomiting – may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.
Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria. In adults, multi-organ involvement is also frequent. In malaria endemic areas, people may develop partial immunity, allowing asymptomatic infections to occur.