How can you get infected with malaria?
Malaria is transmitted directly via the bite of an infected mosquito. Only certain female mosquitoes, of the genus Anopheles, can carry malaria. The mosquito picks up the malaria parasite (there are five different types of malaria that infect humans, though all are transmitted in exactly the same way) when it feeds on the blood of an infected person. The parasite then undergoes a cycle of reproduction in the mosquito, before new parasites migrate once again to the mosquitoes salivary glands. From here, they are able to escape into the blood of a new human host when the mosquito takes another blood meal by biting the person.
Since malaria is transmitted by blood, there have been a some reports of malaria transmission via organ donor or blood transfusion, though most countries now screen for malaria before using donated blood or organs. Additionally, if a pregnant woman gets malaria, the parasite can be passed to her baby either across the placenta or during delivery; this is called “congenital malaria”, and can be quite harmful to the baby. As such, and also because pregnant women themselves are especially vulnerable to malaria, many campaigns have dedicated themselves to providing pregnant women with long-lasting insecticide treated bednets and other measures to prevent and treat malaria.