Malaria, a parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes, is very common and often deadly in regions such as Africa and Central America where mosquitoes are common. In 2010 alone, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 219 million people became infected with malaria worldwide. Malaria was largely eradicated from the United States in the 1950s, but there have been some local outbreaks of mosquito-borne malaria since this time.
According to the World Health Organization, malaria killed more than 627,000 deaths in 2012 alone. Most of these occurred in Africa. Symptoms of malaria generally appear about 10 to 15 days after the person is bitten by a mosquito carrying the plasmodium parasite that causes the disease. If the condition is not treated, the symptoms, which include headache, fever and vomiting, can progress quickly and lead to death as the blood supply to vital organs is reduced.
Three species of mosquitoes are know to transmit malaria: Anopheles quadrimaculatus, Anopheles freeborni and Anopheles pseudopunctipennis. There are four different species of the plasmodium parasite that can cause malaria: Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale. Pregnant women have an increased susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum when compared to the rest of the population. A malaria infection during pregnancy often leads to low birth weight and increases the likelihood of death during infancy.