Skip to main content

What is malaria?

Page last updated 09 April 2020

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito (i.e. the female Anopheles mosquito), which feeds on humans.

There are five types of parasites that cause malaria in humans: Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium knowlesi and Plasmodium falciparum. Initially, the parasites roam in the bloodstream for a short time before moving on to infect the liver and multiply. After about 6–16 days (depending on which parasite it is), the parasite returns to the bloodstream to infect and multiply inside the red blood cells.


View the travel map

Launch interactive map

Sources & Citations

2. NSW Government, Department of Health, Malaria fact sheet. Available at: (accessed 11 March 2020). 

3. World Health Organisation, Malaria Fact Sheet. Available at: (accessed 11 March 2020).

4. Victorian State Government, Better Health Channel, Malaria. Available at (accessed 11 March 2020).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.05.0186(1)a - Date of preparation March 2020