Plasmodium falciparum is a protozoan parasite, one of the species of Plasmodium that cause malaria in humans. It is transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito. Malaria caused by this species (also called malignant or falciparum malaria) is the most dangerous form of malaria, with the highest rates of complications and mortality. As of 2006, there were an estimated 247 million human malarial infections (98% in Africa, 70% being 5 years or younger).
Plasmodium vivax is a protozoal parasite and a human pathogen. The most frequent and widely distributed cause of recurring (Benign tertian) malaria, P. vivax is one of the six species of malaria parasites that commonly infect humans. It is less virulent than Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the six, but vivax malaria can lead to severe disease and death due to splenomegaly (a pathologically enlarged spleen). It afflicted as many as eight U.S. presidents—including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln—and may have helped kill Genghis Khan. P.