Thursday, March 15, 2012

History of malaria

The term malaria, from the Italian mala and aria meaning ‘bad air’, reveals the old belief that the disease was a product of miasma, or noxious vapor generated by putrescent organic matter.

Over millennia, its victim have included Neolithic dwellers, early Chinese and Greeks, princess and paupers.

The earliest records of the disease are from ancient Chinese medical writings, dating back to 2700 BC. They describe swampy areas where people suffered from fevers, pain and sometimes death.

The ancient Egyptians also had trouble with malaria, Egyptians mummies have been found that have enlarged spleens one of the characteristic signs of the disease.

By the beginning of the Christian era, malaria was wide spread around the shores of the Mediterranean, central and south east Asia, China, Korea, Japan.

Malaria’s probable arrival in Rome in the first century AD was a turning point in European story.

From the African rain forest, the disease most likely traveled down the Nile to the Mediterranean, then spread east to the Fertile Crescent and north to Greece.

 It was Patrick Manson, a Brutish medical officer who had served in the Imperial Chinese Customs Service who pointed to the possible link between mosquitoes and human disease in his research on elephantiasis in the late 1870s and early 1880s.

In the late 1880 Charles Laveran, a French military doctor working in Algeria, identified a parasite as the cause of malaria.

From mid 19th century onward malaria disappeared from Europe mainly due to cheap and widespread availability of quinine although at the beginning of the 20th century large area of Europe and Northern America were still affected.

In the 20th century alone, malaria claimed between 150 million and 300 million lives, accounting for 2 to 5 percent of all death.
History of malaria

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