Malaria is a disease caused by parasites (any 1 of 5 closely related) that are spread through mosquito bites.
There are a limited number of mosquito species that can carry the parasite that carries malaria; they have rarely been found in Maricopa County, and the last time one was recorded was over a decade ago.
Read more about malaria outside of Arizona (07/07/2023)
Malaria is spread primarily through mosquito bites. These mosquitoes generally feed from evening to early morning, so it is important to protect against mosquito bites whenever you are outside. In Maricopa County, we do have Anopheles mosquitoes; however, we have not had laboratory-confirmed reports of malaria-positive mosquitoes.
The most common Anopheles mosquito species in Maricopa County is Anopheles franciscanus. Although the female mosquitoes of this species bite humans, they are not a known malaria vector and are not associated with disease transmission in Maricopa County.
Symptoms in non-immune people. Individuals who have never have been infected with malaria before will experience symptoms. This often occurs when an individual travels to an area where malaria is commonly found. The common symptoms are fever, chills, sweats, headaches, nausea, vomiting, body aches, and general discomfort.
Symptoms in immune people. Individuals who live in areas where malaria is commonly found may have had malaria previously. People who have been infected with malaria before might experience very mild symptoms that are similar to a cold.
Severe symptoms in a few people. In a small number of individuals, malaria may develop into a more serious sickness. The signs of severe malaria include:
- Abnormal behavior, impairment of consciousness, seizures, coma
- Destruction of red blood cells (severe anemia)
- Blood in the urine
- Swelling in the lungs which prevents proper breathing
- Blood that is not clotting correctly
- Low blood pressure
- Kidney failure
- Imbalance of acid in the blood
- Low blood sugar
Symptom relapse in some individuals infected with two types of parasite. Some individuals who have been infected with P. vivax or P. ovale may recover from their initial illness and then experience the same symptoms months or years later. These relapses occur because these two parasites can survive in the liver and then re-infect an individual later.
Individuals should see a healthcare provider if they develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where malaria is found. The provider may order blood tests to look for malaria.
When traveling to a region where malaria is found, take an anti-malarial drug. If you are traveling to an area where malaria is found, visit your health-care provider 4-6 weeks before travel so they can write a prescription for an antimalarial drug. It is recommended that you obtain all of the medication you will need for your trip before traveling abroad as buying medication abroad has risks. For example, the medication may be of poor quality, contaminated, counterfeit, or not available.
Protect yourself while traveling. If you travel to an area with risk of malaria, stay in places with air conditioning and with windows and door screens. Use a bed net if an air conditioning or screened rooms are not available or if you are sleeping outdoors.