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Malaria is caused by a parasite transmitted from one human to another via the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. The parasites migrate to the liver, mature and enter the bloodstream, where they rupture red blood cells. An infected pregnant woman can transmit malaria to her unborn child.

Review Date 11/1/2015

Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.