View an illustration about the life cycle of the malaria parasite.
Malaria is caused by a single-celled parasite from the genus Plasmodium. More than 100 different species of Plasmodium exist. They produce malaria in many types of animals and birds, as well as in humans.
Four species of Plasmodium commonly infect humans. Each one has a distinctive appearance under the microscope, and each one produces a somewhat different pattern of symptoms. Two or more species can live in the same area and infect a single person at the same time.
Last Updated February 14, 2011