Malaria is the world’s most important tropical parasitic disease and a leading cause of death worldwide. The disease is caused by the parasite, Plasmodium species and transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever and usually appear 10 to 15 days after one is bitten by an infected mosquito. While easily treated, proper early diagnosis is critical to successful management, since many diseases in tropical areas of the world are characterized by fever. Left untreated, the parasites multiply in the liver and can become life-threatening. Treatment based on the presence of fever alone has led to increasing resistance of the Plasmodium parasites to an extremely limited arsenal of effective therapeutic treatments.
About half the world’s 3.3 billion people live in areas that have some risk of malaria transmission. While Africa has the largest number of people living in areas with high risk of malaria, South-East Asia and South America are also endemic regions. In addition, about 18 million U.S. travelers visit malaria-endemic countries annually.