Malaria - Despair and Hope
The malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) is a notorious killer and has more than half a million deaths per year on its conscience. The World Health Organization estimate that more than 3 billion people, in more than 100 countries, live in areas where they are frequently at risk of contracting the illness.
Thankfully, researchers are working tirelessly towards victory against humanity’s most dangerous predator: the malaria parasite. Their research ranges from the potential development of a vaccine to a reduction of transmission rates through genetic engineering of mosquitoes. The latter is also of interest for tackling the infection rates and spread of other illnesses also using mosquitoes as vectors, like the infamous Zika virus.
This video shows the horrors and break-throughs of the malaria saga. However, the future looks bright: let’s hope for more EUREKA moments in malaria research and for humanity to beat this foe, once and for all.
Malaria Transmission Process
Not all mosquito types are potential carriers of the malaria parasite; the main perpetrator is the Anopheles mosquito commonly present in sub-Saharan Africa. Humans get infected by the plasmodium (malaria) parasite upon being bitten by the insect. The parasites then migrate to the liver cells where they multiply in number. The next stage of the infection involves an attack on the host’s erythrocytes (red blood cells) in which the parasite continues to increase in number. The erythrocytes eventually burst and release so-called merozoites, a type of daughter parasite that continues to infect even more erythrocytes. This process more than often continues until the patient dies.
Certain gametocyte cells can be picked up by a mosquito from the host when bitten, and so the life cycle of the parasite continues.
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