I’m a typical American and mosquitoes in the American South represent an annoyance to be had every Spring through Fall. It means annoying bites and, in my case, severe swelling. I seem to attract them. And every once in a while, depending on how fear-instilling the local news is, mosquitoes represent the possibility of the transmission of West Nile Virus.
But for many poor and developing countries, malaria is a very real and prevalent risk. Like West Nile Virus, mosquitoes are the transmitters of the disease. They often carry a parasite called Plasmodium that, once transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, multiply in the liver and infect red blood cells.
In a developed nation like the United States, treatment of malaria would include the administration of one of several drugs shown to be effective, including quinine.
In other countries where resources and education aren’t as prevalent, drugs aren’t always as prevalent or easily accessible. In these areas, much of the focus is on prevention of the disease through often simple means such as proper bed netting.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes April 25, 2012 as World Malaria Day. The goal of the day is for countries and organizations to learn and share some of the efforts being used to eradicate malaria.
Some key statistics to note:
- In 2010, about 3.3 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – were at risk of malaria
- Malaria causes nearly 1 million deaths per year
- 85 percent of those who die are children under 5 years of age
- 90 percent of malaria deaths occur in Africa
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are blazing a remarkable trail to not only treat malaria in these developing countries but to work to eradicate it through the development of a vaccine by the year 2025.
Be sure to check out our infographic of the week about how we can end malaria.