Mosquitos and Malaria
Do all mosquitoes transmit malaria? Only certain species of mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus—and only females of those species—can transmit malaria. Anophelines are found worldwide except Antarctica. Malaria is transmitted by different Anopheles species, depending on the region and the environment. Anophelines that can transmit malaria are found not only in malaria-endemic areas, but also in areas where malaria has been eliminated.
Malaria is caused by a one-celled parasite called a Plasmodium. Female Anopheles mosquitoes pick up the parasite from infected people when they bite to obtain blood needed to nurture their eggs. Inside the mosquito the parasites reproduce and develop. When the mosquito bites again, the parasites contained in the salivary gland are injected and pass into the blood of the person being bitten.
Malaria parasites multiply rapidly in the liver and then in red blood cells of the infected person. One to two weeks after a person is infected the first symptoms of malaria appear: usually fever, headache, chills and vomiting. If not treated promptly with effective medicines, malaria can kill by infecting and destroying red blood cells and by clogging the capillaries that carry blood to the brain or other vital organs.
Prevention of malaria involves protecting yourself against mosquito bites and taking antimalarial medicines. But public health officials strongly recommend that young children and pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where malaria is common.