last updated 24-05-2024

Malaria life cycle

Malaria life cycle

The malaria parasite can live in three hosts depending on the stage. Sporozoites are transferred from the female mosquito to humans by a bite. The sporozoites will leave the circulation and localize in the liver, where they multiply and develop into tissue schizonts. This exoerythrocytic phase lasts 5-15 days. Then the schizonts rupture and release many merozoites, which enter the circulation and infect erythrocytes.

In the erythrocyte, the parasites develop and become trophozoites and finally mature schizonts.


Febrile attacks are caused by the release of merozoites from the schizont. Some erythrocytic parasites differentiate into gametozoites. These are transferred after a new bite back to the mosquito. In the insect's intestine, fertilization occurs and new sporozoites are formed.

The treatment of malarial infection is aimed at inhibiting the nucleic acid and protein synthesis in the parasite.


Four different Plasmodium species can cause disease in humans.