Malaria, getting you up to scratch

Now here is an itchy subject. Malaria affects millions of people around the world. The disease has been wiped out in some places but is still rampant in tropical areas of the world. ‘Mal aria’ was a description of the “bad air” that was found in swampy areas and thought to be the cause of the disease.

(c) My Medical Mantra

According to sources, malaria has killed more people than all the wars of history. In the early twentieth century in India, one million people per year were dying from this disease. The advent of DDT (a colourless, tasteless, and almost odourless crystalline chemical compound, an organochlorine, originally developed as an insecticide) was a sensation to beat all sensations. DDT was fantastic for the control of all insect pests. It was first produced in Switzerland and the rights to manufacture were sold to the world during the Second World War. The US military was spraying areas with DDT before invading them. The reduction in disease casualties was evident and remarkable. Previously there were three or four disease victims for every battle casualty.

Malaria symptoms (c) Chemist & Duggist

After the war the public wanted access to this insecticide to protect crops and soon it was noticed that there repercussions to the unrestricted use of this magic substance. DDT was building up in the bodies of animals further up the food chain. It was also toxic to fish and frogs. Now, fish and frogs, as well as a host of other insects, are all predators of mosquitoes and their larvae. Instead of reducing the incidence of malaria over a long term there is a real risk that DDT was going to increase the risk because insects are really good at becoming resistant to chemicals. This is mainly due to their high reproduction rate and the incorrect usage of the chemicals.

We always try to eradicate the carrier. If we were to target the plasmodium that actually causes the disease then the problem would go away. Is it possible that pharmaceutical companies could develop an immunization for malaria? Although that would be great, that would mean everyone on earth, for as long as it takes, to totally kill all the plasmodia. It has been done with other diseases, let’s hope for this in the future.