Comedian Morgana Robinson provides a short overview of the malaria lifecycle. More episodes.
The natural ecology of malaria involves malaria parasites infecting successively two types of hosts: humans and female Anopheles mosquitoes. In humans, the parasites grow and multiply first in the liver cells and then in the red cells of the blood. In the blood, successive broods of parasites grow inside the red cells and destroy them, releasing daughter parasites that continue the cycle by invading other red cells.
The blood stage parasites are those that cause the symptoms of malaria. When certain forms of blood stage parasites are picked up by a female Anopheles mosquito during a blood meal, they start another, different cycle of growth and multiplication in the mosquito.
After 10–18 days, the parasites are found (as “sporozoites”) in the mosquito’s salivary glands.
When the Anopheles mosquito takes a blood meal on another human, the sporozoites are injected with the mosquito’s saliva and start another human infection when they parasitise the liver cells. Thus the mosquito carries the disease from one human to another (acting as a “vector”).
Differently from the human host, the mosquito vector does not suffer from the presence of the parasites.