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Malaria

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What Increases Your Risk

Risk factors (things that increase your risk) for getting malaria include:

  • Living or traveling in a country or region where malaria is present.
  • Traveling in an area where malaria is common and:
    • Not taking medicine to prevent malaria before, during, and after travel, or failing to take the medicine correctly.
    • Being outdoors, especially in rural areas, between dusk and dawn (nighttime), when the mosquitoes that transmit malaria are most active.
    • Not taking steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Your risk of getting malaria depends on your age, history of exposure to malaria, and whether you are pregnant. Most adults who have lived in areas where malaria is present have developed partial immunity to malaria because of previous infections and so almost never develop severe disease. But young children who live in these areas and travelers to these areas are especially at risk for malaria because they have not developed this immunity.

Pregnant women are more likely than nonpregnant women to get severe malaria, because the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy.

Also, pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with other health problems are more likely to have serious complications if they get malaria.

You can take measures to reduce the risk of malaria if you live in areas where the disease is present or if you are traveling in these areas.

Malaria is more severe in people who have had their spleen removed (splenectomy).

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 23, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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