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The Connection between Malaria and Mosquitoes

The Connection between Malaria and Mosquitoes

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Malaria is a very serious illness that affects hundreds of millions of people every year. Malaria is a mosquito-borne, infectious disease, and is mostly prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions. There are many ways to prevent malaria, some of which include mosquito control. Scientists and researchers have significantly reduced malaria in North America to the point of elimination; however, it is still an endemic in many countries throughout the world.

How Malaria Spreads

Female mosquitoes are the primary host, since male mosquitoes do not feed on blood. Malaria infects the mosquitoes that feed on infected humans. When the mosquitoes become infected, the virus mutates within them to form sporozoites, tiny creatures that reside in the salivary glands. Malaria develops in humans in two phases: exoerythrocytic and erythrocytic. The exoerythrocytic phase involves the infection of the liver, and the erythrocytic phase involves infection of the red blood cells.

When an infected mosquito lands on and pierces your skin to suck blood, the sporozoites in the mosquito’s saliva enter your bloodstream and travel to the liver. Within an hour, the sporozoites infect liver tissue, known as hepatocytes, and they begin to multiply rapidly for six to 15 days. Once this is over, the organisms multiply into many different kinds of merozoites, which infect the red blood cells. When they infect the blood, the parasites multiply further. Throughout malaria’s lifecycle, it infects the body’s regular cells, which gives it protection from the immune system. Throughout malaria’s lifecycle, it infects the body’s regular cells, which gives it protection from the immune system.

Malaria Prevention/Elimination

Vector Control

Malaria was once a problem in the United States, but widespread vector control—controlling the mosquitoes’ population—along with pesticide use has essentially eliminated it as of the mid-20th century. Heavy usage of the infamous pesticide DDT has played a significant role in eliminating malaria in North America. Scientists have also entertained the notion of genetically modified mosquitoes, with the think that, if the mosquitoes are immune to malaria, they are unable to pass the disease to humans. However, these modifications have proven ineffective.

Drugs

You can take drugs intended to treat malaria for preventative purposes. Recommended for short-term usage, preventative medicine is ideal for short-term visitors in countries with a malaria problem, due to the cost of purchasing the drugs and the negative long-term effects of anti-malarial drugs. The study and research of a completely successful vaccination is underway, though no entirely effective vaccine has become available. Some vaccines are partially successful, but due to the large varieties in strains of malaria and human physiology, a widespread malaria vaccine is still in progress.

Malaria spreads solely by infected mosquito bites and is of endemic proportions in many of the world’s nations. Roughly one million to three million people in the world die each year from malaria. There are several different types of infectious malaria, and it can infect birds, reptiles, monkeys, chimpanzees, and rodents, as well as humans. It is extremely important to have a vaccination and/or acquire medication before traveling to a place where malaria is still a problem. If you have questions about the transmission of malaria, contact a physician.

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