Although malaria transmission usually occurs through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito, it can also occur through contact with infected blood. Malaria transmission may also occur from a mother to her fetus before or during delivery.
Malaria Transmission: An Overview
Malaria transmission usually occurs through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Less commonly, malaria transmission may occur through contact with infected blood.
Malaria is not transmitted from person to person like the common cold or the flu. You cannot get malaria from casual contact with malaria-infected people.
Malaria Transmission: Mosquito Bite Malaria transmission most often occurs through the bite of an Anopheles mosquito. No other types of mosquitoes are known to transmit malaria. This type of mosquito becomes infected with one of the four Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria in humans, through a previous blood meal from an infected person.
Malaria Transmission Specifics When an Anopheles mosquito bites an infected person, a small amount of blood infected with microscopic malaria parasites is taken. The parasite grows and matures in the mosquito’s gut for a week or more, then travels to the mosquito’s salivary glands. When the mosquito next takes a blood meal, these parasites mix with the saliva, are injected with the bite, and malaria transmission is complete.
Once in the blood, the parasites travel to the liver and enter liver cells, to grow and multiply. After as few as seven days or as long as several years, the parasites leave the liver cells and enter red blood cells, which normally carry oxygen in the blood to tissues that need it.
Once in the red blood cells, the malaria parasites continue to grow and multiply. After they mature, the infected red blood cells rupture, freeing the parasites to attack and enter other red blood cells. Toxins released when the red cells burst are what cause the typical symptoms of malaria, such as:
* Flu-like symptoms.
If a mosquito bites this infected person and ingests certain types of malaria parasites, the malaria transmission cycle continues.
Other Methods of Malaria Transmission Because the malaria parasite is found in red blood cells, malaria transmission may also occur through contact with infected blood. This can occur through:
* A blood transfusion
* An organ transplant
* The shared use of needles or syringes that are contaminated with blood.
Malaria transmission may also occur from a mother to her fetus, before or during delivery (congenital malaria).
Malaria Transmission and Incubation Period When someone becomes infected, he or she will not feel sick immediately. The period between malaria transmission and the beginning of malaria symptoms is called the malaria incubation period. It may be as short as seven days or as long as several years; however, it typically ranges from 10 days to four weeks.