Malaria is spread by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito, and can cause fever, chills and flu-like symptoms.

There are five types of malaria that can infect human beings. Left untreated, people with malaria may get very sick and even die.

The Anopheles mosquitoes that spread malaria are not found in New Zealand. This means anyone living in New Zealand who has malaria has caught it overseas. Malaria is typically found in tropical and subtropical countries, including parts of Central and South America, Africa, South Asia, South-east Asia, the Middle East and Oceania.   

If you are concerned about malaria call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.

Malaria is spread by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito and cannot be spread directly from person to person. You cannot get malaria from contact with malaria-infected people, such as sitting next to someone who has malaria.

However, because the malaria parasite is found in the blood cells of an infected person, malaria can be passed on through:

  • blood transfusion
  • organ transplants
  • shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood

Malaria can also be transmitted from a mother to her baby before or during birth.

Malaria symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • tiredness
  • nausea and vomiting (feeling and being sick)
  • diarrhoea (runny poo)
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

If it isn’t treated quickly, one type of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma and death.

For most people, symptoms begin 10 days to four weeks after they have been infected. In some cases, malaria can occur again after you have recovered – this can be from several months to up to about four years after you were infected.

If you think you may have malaria, see your doctor urgently, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116. It is important malaria is treated quickly.

There are several medications available to treat malaria. Which medication you will be given depends on how severe the malaria is, what type it is, and which country you were in when you were infected.

If you are travelling soon to a country that has malaria, talk to your doctor to find out what precautions you should take. Try to do this four to six weeks before you leave, as some medicines need to be started before you leave New Zealand. 

Although taking the right preventive medicines is vital, it is also important to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Use insect repellent (you can apply this over sunscreen), wear long sleeves, pants and socks and stay in places where there are mosquito screens on windows and doors, or places with air-conditioning where the doors and windows are closed.



Malaria is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. Once we are notified about a case of malaria, we can investigate which country it came from and provide appropriate advice.

Public health also has a role in keeping exotic mosquitoes out of the Northern region.


There are specific requirements for notifiable diseases in the Auckland region.

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Last updated 29.11.2022

For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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