Malaria is caused by a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes. The parasite is called Plasmodium. There are four main types of malaria, which are Plasmodium (P). facliparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale. P. falciparum is found more often in areas close to the equator, and tends to cause the most serious illness. The other three types of malaria do not usually cause serious illness.
Malaria is an illness that causes fever, shaking chills and flu-like symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches and extreme tiredness. Malaria can cause very severe illness, and can be fatal if not treated. Some types of malaria cause symptoms to repeat after months or years. Most people in the U. S. who have malaria have traveled to a foreign country in the last three months. If you have a fever and have recently traveled out of the country, tell your health care provider. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.
Cases in the United States of malaria generally occur in travelers coming from countries where transmission occurs, mainly sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Malaria is a reportable condition in Oklahoma.
If you travel to an area where malaria occurs, you can take steps to prevent getting it. Use mosquito repellent especially around the times of dawn and dusk. Use a mosquito net while sleeping. When outdoors, use mosquito repellent with DEET or picaridin (KBR 3023). Follow package directions for how to apply and how often.
Before you travel to an area where malaria is common, see your health care provider who can provide a prescription for antimalarial medicine. Follow the instructions because you may need to start as early as two weeks before your trip. It is very important to take the medicine as prescribed.
If you have a fever and have recently traveled out of the country, tell your health care provider, and ask to be tested for malaria infection. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.