The Mosquitoe Death! Well.. Maybe Not "Death."

By Lance Thomas


Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran, a French army surgeon stationed in Constantine, Algeria, was the first to notice parasites in the blood of a patient suffering from malaria. This occurred on the 6th of November 1880. For his discovery, Laveran was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1907.

The Monster!

On August 20th, 1897, Ronald Ross, a British officer in the Indian Medical Service, was the first to demonstrate that malaria parasites could be transmitted from infected patients to mosquitoes. In further work with bird malaria, Ross showed that mosquitoes could transmit malaria parasites from bird to bird. This necessitated a sporogonic cycle (the time interval during which the parasite developed in the mosquito). Thus, the problem of malaria transmission was solved. For his discovery, Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1902.

What is Malaria and what does it infect?

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.

Malaria's affect

Malaria has a number of effects on the body. The parasite passes from the blood (where it enters via the bite of an infected mosquito) into the liver, where it reproduces and changes form. After a period of 1-4 weeks (usually – it can be longer) in the liver, the malaria parasite re-enters the blood and begins to infect red blood cells, undoing more reproduction inside the cells and then, in synchrony, bursting out once the cycle is complete. This process of reproduction and destroying red blood cells results in a build-up of toxins and debris in the blood; the resultant immune reaction produces side effects which are the common observable symptoms of malaria, such as fever, chills, nausea and aches.

Types of Malaria

Four kinds of malaria parasites have long been known to infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae.


  • Malaria mortality rates have fallen by 42% globally since 2000, and by 49% in the WHO African Region.
  • Most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria.
  • Malaria mortality rates among children in Africa have been reduced by an estimated 54% since 2000.
  • The mortality rate is about 450,000 a year in children alone.


Traditional Doctor Method For Testing For Malaria

Stained Blood FilmsThe accepted laboratory practice for the diagnosis of malaria is the preparation and microscopic examination of blood films stained with Giemsa, Wright’s, or Field’s stain (69). Blood obtained by pricking a finger or earlobe is the ideal sample because the density of developed trophozoites or schizonts is greater in blood from this capillary-rich area (17). Blood obtained by venipuncture collected in heparin or Sequestrine (EDTA) anticoagulant-coated tubes is acceptable if used shortly after being drawn to prevent alteration in the morphology of white blood cells (WBC) and malaria parasites. Both thick and thin blood films should be prepared.



Treatment of malaria depends on many factors including disease severity, the species of malaria parasite causing the infection and the part of the world in which the infection was acquired. The latter 2 characteristics help determine the probability that the organism is resistant to certain antimalarial drugs. Additional factors such as age, weight, and pregnancy status may limit the available options for malaria treatment.

Most drugs used in treatment are active against the parasite forms in the blood (the form that causes disease) and include:

  • chloroquine
  • atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone®)
  • artemether-lumefantrine (Coartem®)
  • mefloquine (Lariam®)
  • quinine
  • quinidine
  • doxycycline (used in combination with quinine)
  • clindamycin (used in combination with quinine)
  • artesunate (not licensed for use in the United States, but available through the CDC malaria hotline)


Prevention of malaria involves protecting yourself against mosquito bites and taking antimalarial medicines. But public health officials strongly recommend that young children and pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where malaria is common.

To prevent mosquito bites, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay inside when it is dark outside, preferably in a screened or air-conditioned room.
  • Wear protective clothing (long pants and long-sleeved shirts).
  • Use insect repellent with DEET (N,N diethylmetatoluamide). The repellent is available in varying strengths up to 100%. In young children, use a preparation containing less than 24% strength, because too much of the chemical can be absorbed through the skin.
  • Use bed nets (mosquito netting) sprayed with or soaked in an insecticide such as permethrin or deltamethrin. But make sure that these insecticides still work against the mosquitoes where you are. In some areas, mosquitoes have become resistant to permethrin and deltamethrin. So the bed nets do not offer much protection.4
  • Use flying-insect spray indoors around sleeping areas.
  • Avoid areas where malaria and mosquitoes are present if you are at higher risk (for example, if you are pregnant, very young, or very old).

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