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Who is at risk for contracting malaria in an epidemic?

Malaria is a blood-borne disease caused by several species of the Plasmodium protozoan, primarily P. vivax and P. falciparum. These microorganisms are transmitted by an insect, the anopheles mosquito. The mosquito serves not only as the only route of transmission of the disease, but also as a critical incubator in the life cycle of the Plasmodium protozoan. Consequently, the disease is endemic to areas in which these species of anopheles mosquito exist and thrive. Anyone who is not already infected with the disease and who travels to an area (notably sub-Saharan Africa) in which the disease is endemic is at risk of contracting malaria.

Some people have a limited immunity to malaria, notably those with sickle cell disease and those who have survived previous bouts. But young children and pregnant women (whose resistance is lowered) are at greater risk of contracting and being harmed by malaria.

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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.