Do you know Malaria's history?
The disease malaria is much older than what many people may think. The first malaria reference was found in a Chinese document, called the Nei Ching,
from 2700 B.C. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). Soon, malaria became recognized throughout
the world. Researchers and scientists
found references in other locations, such as the Mesopotamia clay tablets in
2000 BC and in the Egyptian papyrus from 1570 BC, and Hindu texts, which data as
far back as the 6th Century BC (Cox, 2010). In addition, disease was the cause for declines in
population in many of Greece’s city-states during the 4th Century BC
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). However, the Grecianphysician, Hippocrates, known as the "Father of Medicine" was the first to attribute all the ailments to a disease. Previously, people thought the ailments occurred due to supernatural reasons.
first discovered malaria, many people thought swamps caused the illness. This idea lasted for more than 2500
years. In fact, the word “malaria” is
Italian for meaning “spoiled air,” – the same air which supposedly infected people. However, that idea was thrown out when
scientists discovered the real malaria: mosquitoes.
As malaria became
prominent, more scientists began to study malaria. There were questions that were left
unanswered. How was malaria
contracted? What exactly caused it? Were there certain populations who were more
vulnerable than other populations? Then,
in the Compendium of Susruta, a Sanskrit medical treatise, authors first
mentioned that insects caused malaria (Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 2017). In the 2nd
Century B.C., Chinese scientists discovered the Qinghao plant, also known as
sweet wormwood, help patients with malaria.
Then, Indigenous Indians, during the time Europeans discovered the “New
World,” discovered that both the medicinal bark (Quinine) of the Cinchona Tree
and medicine from the Qinghao plant can still be used to stop malaria today.
As scientists researched malaria, they also began looking for cures. The first recorded cure came from the Native, Peruvian Indians during the early 1600s. They used the bitter bark of the Cinchona tree to help fight malaria. By 1649, the English could find Cinchona medicine available, known in England as "Jesuits powder" for them to use too.
might be known for the process of pasteurization, which is known as a process
that kills microbes (such as bacteria) in food and drinks, such as milk. However, Pasteur’s development of his theory
that germs cause infection caused microbiologists to change their focus. What if it was a bacterium that caused
malaria? Then, Charles Louis Alphonse
Laveran made the discovery in 1880 when he found the parasites that caused
malaria. Less than two decades later,
the Italian scientists Giovanni Battista Grassi, Amico Bignami, Giuseppe
Bastianelli, Angelo Celli, Camillo Golgi, and Ettore Marchiafava revealed
that mosquitos were what transferred the
parasite into the human blood (Cox, 2010).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The
History of Malaria, an Acient Disease. 19 December 2017. 6 February 2018.
Cox, Francis EG. "History of the Discovery of
the Malaria Parasites and Their Vectors." Parasites & Vectors
Nobelprize.org. Malaria: Past and Present. 9
December 2003. 19 February 2018.