Malaria: it is Really Out to Get Us
Mosquitos are associated with up to 50 serious diseases in man and animals
The Mosquito is the World's Most Deadly Creature
Piiiiiiiiiiin…ping! An annoying sound in Britain or North America as a mosquito dives into a camper’s, or fisherman’s ear, the buzzing so high- pitched from the mozzie’s rapid wing movement it sounds more like a pinging or whining sound.
We’ve all heard it, but unless you are in Asia, the African Sub Sahara Countries, or in other parts of the tropics, you are merely irritated, (but see footnote); for people where the Anopheles Mosquito holds sway, the sound and resulting bite causes fear. The anopheles has about 100 species dangerous to man, the worst of which carry the Plasmodium Parasite, one of the five or more malaria parasites which menace man..
Malaria, the most lethal disease in man’s history, is making a come-back recently; in truth, it never left, but was suppressed for a few generations.
Malaria has been around for at least 60,000 years. It may have first infected early gorillas; the great apes can carry the disease today, but other animals are not affected. .
Such a curse of humankind has it been that scientists tell us perhaps one human in every two throughout history has succumbed to Malaria! (Read that statistic again, please).
In recent times, 225 million people were infected in 2009, for example; close to 700,000 died in 2010. Lancet says these figures are modest and the figure for 2 years ago was closer to 1.2 million. But the real figures are not known and may be higher than any recorded, as so much death goes untreated and unreported from the poorest areas of the world.
This is true from disease, to snake and arachnid bite and even death from crocodile and shark predation, not to dwell on all the deaths that don‘t come to light when man kills man. In simple cultures, life is for the living and there is no time or facilities for obsession with death
Dr Carol Cooper who lectures on Malaria’s come-back told British TV today that the pathogen is becoming resistant to the drugs that have caused it to retreat for a while such as Chloroquine and Artesunate.
These drugs have been sadly abused, as a result of the efforts of local administrations in the danger areas trying to maximize cures by providing drugs free, or at cost. This means they were picked up from pharmacies by many sufferers who administered the drugs to themselves without supervision, or real understanding of dosing. Many discontinued treatment before the drugs could be fully effective, or gave themselves the wrong amounts. This led to the parasite becoming more and more resistant to the drugs, as do cold and flu viruses in the West, to Penicillin, etc.
The fall-back is still quinine. But this drug has some poisonous side effects and would not be the choice by doctors now used to better alternatives.
Those affected by the worst type of malaria, caused by the Plasmodium Falciparum Parasite are subject to a whole slew of life-threatening symptoms, the worst ending in untreatable coma and death. This is when blood carrying the pathogen passes the blood/brain barrier causing intracranial pressure, paralysis of limbs and coma.
After the mosquito bite - and not all Anopheles mosquitoes are infected; only the female carries malaria-causing parasites; (the males feed on plant juices not blood meals) - the parasite lodges in the human liver for a period of from 8 to 30 days forming merozoites which burst forth and infect the body’s red blood cells, causing fever and the start of a whole host of symptoms and illness.
(As usual, man is man’s worse enemy, as many counterfeited drugs have been sold which have little or no effect).
The parasites have actually been used as a biological agent in warfare dating back to 300 BC! Malaria has decimated populations; destabilized empires and destroyed so much of man’s world.
Extensive research continues world-wide by a score of agencies, including the Clinton Foundation in the USA. But malaria continues to be by far the longest established and serious disease mankind has ever had to battle. Despite all the money and research being applied to find new cures, bets are still on the mosquito and it’s deadly pathogen to continue decimating humans.
Despite billions being spent over the centuries to eradicate the Anopheles, it still flourishes. Perhaps the best defense during the creature’s feeding time - from sun-down and all night - is to stay inside protected buildings and use a mosquito net in bed.
Holiday makers traveling to Thailand might note that drug-resistant malaria - worse type, P. Falciparum - (to the drug Artemisinin) has been found having spread from Cambodia. It might be worth while discussing this with your doctor, or perhaps your undertaker.
Mosquitoes are indeed a scourge to mankind and some animals.
While the mozzie can neutralize the virus it carries as its immune system renders the viral genetic coding harmless, it feeds at the same time passing active virus into man by means of saliva and anti-clotting agents.
We associated the Anopheles mosquito with malaria, but other species carry up to 50 more diseases harmful to man.
This includes yellow fever, dengue fever, elephantiasis, West Nile and all the rest. Some, such as dengue and West Nile, etc., are found in the Americas, North and South.
Footnote. Experts estimate around 700 million people are infected by mosquito-borne parasites each year, millions of whom die.
A cynic might say, “Hey, without all this death from disease and disaster, man would choke himself to death by over-population,” (adding, as long as it’s not me!)