Causes of Malaria


Cause details for Malaria: The parasite spends most of its life in the red blood cells of humans. Female mosquitos transmit the parasites by first ingesting them when feeding on an infected person's blood and then injecting them when biting another person. 1

On entering a human, the parasite invades a liver cell, takes on a new form and makes copies of itself. Eventually, the liver cell ruptures and releases the parasites to the bloodstream where they infect red blood cells. Within the blood cells, most parasites reproduce again, which kills the cells and the parasites then invade more blood cells. Other parasites, while in the blood cells, develop into male and female forms. When these cells are sucked up by a mosquito, the cells burst, freeing the sexual forms of the parasite. Within the mosquito, the two forms merge to create an oocyst. After maturing, the oocyst ruptures to release thousands of parasites, which migrate to the mosquito's salivary glands, awaiting her next bite. 1

Malaria is caused by one of four protozoan species of the genus Plasmodium: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae and is transmitted by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Occasionally transmission occurs by blood transfusion or congenitally from mother to fetus. 2

Malaria as a complication: Other conditions that might have Malaria as a complication might be potential underlying causes of Malaria. The list of conditions listing Malaria as a complication in our database includes:

Related information for causes of Malaria: Further relevant information on causes of Malaria may be found in the risk factors for Malaria and underlying causes of Malaria.

1. excerpt from Malaria, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
2. excerpt from Facts About Transfusion-Transmitted Malaria: CDC-OC

Last revision: June 2, 2003

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