Malaria Infection Essay

Submitted By douchebag13
Words: 3548
Pages: 15

Malaria is an Italian word that means “bad air” so named because it was believed to be caused by the bad air in the marshlands. Symptoms fitting the current day disease date back 5,000 years and are documented in ancient Chinese medical. There are writings from both Hippocrates and Pericles about malaria1. Malaria is responsible for hundreds of millions of infections annually and several hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Some statistics estimate as many as 1.2 million annual deaths from malaria and according to the website they state that about one child a minute dies from malaria. That’s over 1,400 children a day or a half of a million a year7. An article from Ellie Chrystal, How Many Billions Have Died from Malaria, claims that 50% of all deaths in man kind’s history are related to malaria2. With forty percent of the world’s population living in malaria prone regions this puts a few trillion people at risk. Malaria was first discovered in 1880 by Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran while he was working in Constantine, Algeria. Dr. Laveran performed tireless work on examining the blood and organs of those who died due to this common, but unknown condition called marsh fever. He eventually found a common thread of black pigmented granules in the blood. Upon further research and observation Dr. Laveran found in the blood of a patient with marsh fever that "…on the edges of a pigmented spherical body, filiform elements which move with great vivacity, displacing the neighboring red blood cells." Dr. Laveran continued on to document the lifecycle of the malaria parasite, called Plasmodium, and below is his illustration of its lifecycle3. As research continued on this still relatively unknown illness, many did not believe that marsh fever was caused by a parasite. It was thought that it had to be a bacterial infection coming from the ground or water of the marshlands. It took Dr. Laveran five years to start convincing his colleagues that it was in fact a parasite and not a bacterial infection3. With the advancement of research and the advent of stains with methylene blue the parasitic nature of malaria was finally proven. This new test was able to identify not one, but multiple strains of malaria3. It wasn’t until 1897 when Dr. Ronald Ross first demonstrated that malaria could be transmitted from patients that have been affected to mosquitoes1. Dr. Ross built on Dr. Laveran’s theory that mosquitoes were connected to the spread of malaria rather than the marshland itself3. There are four species of Anopheles mosquitoes that can transmit malaria and those are P.falciparum, P.malariae, P.vavax and P.ovale. Only the female is responsible transmitting the parasite because she is the only one that partakes in blood meals.
Sporogony is the parasitic development within the mosquito of the gametocyte which then matures into infective sporozoites in the salivary glands of the mosquito. This process can take anywhere from 8 days to 8 weeks and is dependant on the temperature and humidity, the warmer and more humid the air is the shorter the process takes. When the mosquito feeds on a human the sporozoites from the salivary glands are injected into the human. These sporozoites collect in the liver of the human host where they start to grow and multiply. The parasites then spread to the red blood cells and overtake them as well. The red blood cells become a breading ground for the parasites. Once they’ve matured the parasites rupture the red blood cell releasing the daughter parasites called merozoites4. Then the cycle starts over again. With each “hatching” of the merozoites it causes the fever in the human host as the body tries to defend itself. The incubation period for the parasite is about 1-4 weeks and I’m guessing once the merozoites reach a critical mass in the blood stream that’s when the malarial symptoms start appearing. Uncomplicated malaria attacks last for 6-10 hours at a