Who Is Affected by Malaria Infection

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The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that about 216 million people became seriously ill from malaria in 2010 and about 655,000 people died. footnote 1

  • Most cases of malaria and most of the deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa. footnote 1
  • 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. footnote 1

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 1,925 people developed malaria in 2011 (the most recent year for which statistics are available). Most of the people were infected with P. falciparum malaria. Several of the people were infected with more than one type of malaria. Five of the people died. footnote 2 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 (2012). World Malaria Report 2012. Available online: http://www.who.int/malaria/publications/world_malaria_report_2012/en/index.html.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Malaria surveillance-United States, 2011. MMWR, 62(SS-5): 1-17. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6205.pdf. Accessed January 13, 2015.

ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017