In 1999, the World Health Organization reported that malaria was the cause of about 200 million deaths in 1800s alone. Some studies claim that throughout human history malaria caused the deaths of about 50 billion people. These statistics distinctly show that this disease is the deadliest humans have ever faced. In fact, malaria is responsible for the deaths of more people throughout history than all the wars ever fought combined. Fortunately, modern medicine and increased preventative measures have reduced the devastating effects of this disease on humans.
However, over 40% of the world's population lives in areas where there is a risk of developing malaria. In fact, more than 240 million cases of the disease occurred in 2015 alone. In the same year, 438,000 deaths resulted from malarial infections worldwide. Africa represented 90% of all these fatalities, but the US is not safe from it either. According to the CDC, the US reports about 1,500 cases of this illness yearly. Most of the reported cases in the US are from immigrants and travelers though not all of them are. Therefore, knowing more about this illness is critical if the world is to help those already infected while preventing healthy people from getting it.
Parasites belonging to a taxonomic genus known as Plasmodium are responsible for the development of malaria in humans. The Anopheles mosquitoes carry this virus, but only the females transmit it into humans as they suck a person's blood. The parasites travel to the liver, mature and then reproduce. Then they travel into the blood stream infecting a person's red blood cells.
Unfortunately, the immune system fails to fight these parasites because they remain undetected while hiding in the red blood cells. Eventually, a person will start exhibiting symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headaches, and vomiting. Other serious symptoms such as seizures, yellow skin, and coma might follow. Death is also a possibility.
The best way of preventing this illness is by sleeping under a mosquito net if you live in mosquito-infested areas. Remember, the Anopheles mosquitoes, unlike those that cause the Zika virus, are most active at night. Therefore, sleeping under a mosquito net at night prevents them from transmitting the virus into your body as they bite you.
Another way of preventing this disease is by getting rid of the mosquitoes in your habitat to the extent feasible. For example, you can make sure that they do not breed near you by clearing bushes and getting rid of stagnant water.
At the moment, there is no vaccine for malaria; however, antimalarial medication exists for those already infected.