After an infection, parasites settle in the liver. There they develop and after a certain time they end up in the blood. There they enter the red blood cells, where they divide and multiply until the blood cell breaks up, then they attack other blood cells, and so on. It is at this stage that the characteristic fever attacks occur.
The first symptoms appear after an average of 10 to 14 days. In the worst form of malaria, caused by P. falciparum, narrow blood vessels become clogged and, especially if that happens in the brain, can lead to death.
Scientists have been working on a vaccine for years, but that is a complex matter. Preventing the disease in risk areas consists mainly of wearing clothing that covers the entire skin and the use of mosquito nets and anti-mosquito liquid. People traveling to risk areas are advised to take pills to avoid contamination.