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Chapter 1 : From Breathing Bad Air to Biting Beasts
Malaria is also called ague, intermittent fever, marsh fever, Roman fever, or simply The Fever. It was believed that the fever recurred during the sickly summer season due to vapors emanating from the marshes, hence the name “malaria” (literally “bad air”). Ronald Ross’s discovery of infectious stages in the mosquito salivary glands in bird malaria appeared to be the critical element in understanding transmission of the disease in humans. After discovering the mosquito as a vector for Plasmodium, Ross presumed that once the inoculated parasites (called sporozoites) had entered the bloodstream they burrowed straightaway into red blood cells. Giovanni Battista Grassi recognized that insofar as malaria was concerned there remained two main tasks: to demonstrate the developmental cycle of the human parasite in the mosquito and to identify the kind of mosquito that transmitted human malaria. There are four kinds of human malaria parasites, P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. vivax, and P. ovale, with three developmental stages (in the blood, in the mosquito, and in the liver). Each of these could be a potential target for drug therapy. Medicines developed against the various stages could serve to break the cycle of transmission, prevent relapses, and, minimize or eliminate entirely the pathologic effects of the rapidly multiplying stages in the blood.
Key Concept Ranking
- Blood Infections