Chapter 2 : Malaria, the Sickness

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The human malarias, , , , and , are transmitted through the bite of an infected female anopheline mosquito when she injects sporozoites from her salivary glands during blood feeding. The long-term consequences of malaria infections are an enlarged spleen and liver and organ dysfunction. In pregnant females, falciparum malaria may result in stillbirth, lower than normal birth weight, or abortion. On the basis of clinical patterns supplemented by the stained blood film, the human malaria parasites can clearly be distinguished from one another. By using a light microscope, as few as 5 to 10 parasites in a small drop of blood can be seen. Qinghaosu (artemisinin), a Chinese herbal medicine, is both the newest and the oldest in the arsenal of antimalarials. It has been used in China for 2,000 years to reduce fever. It is derived from the leaves of the wormwood . Today, malaria still ravages many countries, targeting the indigenous people and slowly and inexorably killing them. Malnourishment increases the susceptibility to malaria and a variety of other diseases, leads to lower productivity, and puts a further strain on the already fragile health care system. Sadly, in Africa the Horsemen of the Apocalypse have as their principal target the children; one-third of infected (and untreated) children will die from malaria. Thus, it is a certainty that malaria will continue to devastate nations unless something is done to control it.

Citation: Sherman I. 2009. Malaria, the Sickness, p 42-48. In The Elusive Malaria Vaccine. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817428.ch2
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