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What is malaria?

Malaria is caused by four species of Plasmodium microbes which are common to two species: mosquitoes and humans. When an infected mosquito feeds on human blood, it passes on the microbes. Once the microbes are in the blood, they grow inside red blood cells and destroy them in the process.

Greek writers were recording the ravages of malaria more than 4,000 years ago.

Accounts of the mosquito-borne illness also pop up in ancient Chinese and Indian medical texts. Even back then, scientists understood there were vital connections between malaria and the standing water, where mosquitoes breed.

Malaria is a parasitic infection that attacks a person's red blood cells. It is one of the leading infectious causes of death worldwide, especially among young children in Africa. There are four types of malaria parasites that affect humans. These parasites are typically transmitted through bites from a mosquito carrying the disease. In the United States, most reported incidences of malaria are found in people who have recently traveled abroad to tropical and subtropical countries where malaria is common.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.