Who is affected by malaria infection

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that each year 300 million people become seriously ill from malaria. More than 1 million people die each year from malaria.1

  • Most cases of malaria and most of the deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa.2
  • Although most cases of malaria are caused by Plasmodium falciparum or P. vivax, P. falciparum accounts for almost all of the deaths caused by malaria.2

People traveling to Africa may have a higher risk of infection because they frequently stay outdoors and often camp in rural areas where mosquitoes are common. There may be no risk of malaria (even in malaria-infested areas such as Southeast Asia and South America) if travelers stay in urban or resort areas where there are fewer mosquitoes.

In the United States, 1,564 people developed malaria in 2006 (the most recent year for which statistics are available). Most of the people were infected with P. falciparum malaria. Six of the people died.3 Cases of malaria in the U.S. occur primarily in international travelers, military personnel, and immigrants from countries where malaria is present.


  1. World Health Organization (2006). Guidelines for the treatment of malaria. Available online: http://www.who.int/malaria/docs/TreatmentGuidelines2006.pdf.
  2. World Health Organization (2008). World Malaria Report 2008. Available online: http://www.who.int/malaria/wmr2008/malaria2008.pdf.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Malaria surveillance—United States, 2006. MMWR, 57(SS-05): 24–39. [Erratum in MMWR, 57(27): 747].

Last Updated: May 8, 2009

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