Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a microscopic single celled animal (protozoa of the genus Plasmodium). They are parasites that live in some blood sucking mosquitoes (anopheline mosquitoes). People get infected not directly by other people, but when bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get infected when biting an infected person, and become carriers of the disease. All types of malaria cause you to become ill with high fevers; but death rates during the acute illness and the tendency to get relapses depends on the species of plasmodium. Prevention is by getting rid of the mosquito breeding grounds, and avoiding being bitten by the mosquitoes, which particularly bite at night, by using screens and insecticides, and, for travellers and pregnant women, taking preventative (prophylactic) drugs. However these drugs have side effects and are not completely effective. Over half the people in the world live in territories where the anopheline mosquitoes cannot live, and so you cannot catch malaria there. The few people recorded as having malaria in those territories caught it elsewhere.
Apart from the high fever, malaria can cause the blood to become thin (chronic anaemia), kidney damage (chronic renal failure), and brain and nerve damage (neurological sequelae). The neulogical problems include difficulty walking, talking and seeing. There are about 250 million cases of malaria worldwide each year and it causes 9.3% of all deaths in children aged 0-14 years worldwide.
Global Burden of Disease estimated in 2002 Malaria to cause 2.8% of all Male, 3.2% of all Female and 5.1% of all Very poor territory burden of disease (Disability Adjusted Lost Years).
In 2002 Malaria caused 9.3% of all deaths of children under 15 years old and 4.4% of all deaths in very poor territories with low life expectancy.
Malaria caused 1.6% of all deaths worldwide in 2002 with an average of 147 deaths per million people.