The biggest risk factor for developing malaria is to live in or to visit tropical areas where the disease is common. Many different subtypes of malaria parasites exist. The variety that causes the most lethal complications is most commonly found in:

  • African countries south of the Sahara desert
  • The Indian subcontinent
  • Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Haiti

Risks of more severe disease

People at increased risk of serious disease include:

  • Young children and infants
  • Travelers coming from areas with no malaria
  • Pregnant women and their unborn children

Poverty, lack of knowledge, and little or no access to health care also contribute to malaria deaths worldwide.

Immunity can wane

Residents of a malaria region may be exposed to the disease so frequently that they acquire a partial immunity, which can lessen the severity of malaria symptoms. However, this partial immunity can disappear if you move to a country where you're no longer frequently exposed to the parasite.

Jan. 25, 2013

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