Malaria is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite called Plasmodium.

Plasmodium is the pathogen that causes malaria.

A pathogen is disease causing organism.

Malaria is spread by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The mosquito bite introduces the Plasmodium parasites from the mosquito’s saliva into a person’s blood. Besides carrying the parasites, the saliva also stop the blood from clotting. The Plasmodium parasites then travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce. The mosquito is said to be the vector of malaria.

A vector is an organism that carries a pathogen from one organism to another.

After a week or two, the reproduced parasites break out of the liver cells and invade the red blood cells. In the red blood cells, they reproduce rapidly and invade other red blood cells in a space of about 2 to 3 days.

Each time the daughter plasmodia are released simultaneously from thousands of red cells the patient experiences the symptoms of malaria. These are chills accompanied by violent shivering, followed by a fever and profuse sweating. With so many red cells being destroyed, the patient will also become anaemic.

Malaria affects humans and other animals.

Symptoms of Malaria

Symptoms of malaria include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • yellow skin
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death


Symptoms usually start ten to fifteen days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If not properly treated, the disease may recur months later.

Methods of malaria control:

  1. Preventing breeding of mosquitoes by:

    • identifying mosquito breeding grounds and spraying them with insecticide.
    • burying empty containers and draining pools of stagnant water where mosquitoes might breed.
  2. Killing adult mosquitoes by spraying with insecticide.

  3. Preventing mosquito bites by:

    • using mosquito nets.
    • using insect repellents.
    • wearing long sleeved shirts and long trousers especially in the evenings.
  4. Using antimalarial drugs to treat malaria. Examples of antimalarial drugs are:

    • Quinine
    • Chloroquine
    • Primaquine phosphate
    • Fancida
  5. Using prophylactric drugs to prevent malaria. These drugs are taken by a healthy person as a preventive measure. These include:

    • Dapsone
    • Pyrimethamine

How malaria is transmitted from one person to another

If a mosquito sucks blood from an infected person, it will takes up the parasites from the red blood cells. The parasites then reproduce in the mosquito ready to infect the next human victim.

Life Cycle of the Malaria Parasite

Life Cycle of the Malaria Parasite