October 25

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Unlocking the secret of malaria transmission

Whilst I cannot tell the story in the first person, I pass along this story and the discovery that changed the world.

At the end of the 19th Century, Sir Ronald Ross, a Scottish doctor working in the British Army in India discovered that mosquitoes transmit malaria. This monument discovery affirmed that preventing mosquito bites would halt the spread of the disease, and thus formed the cornerstone of all modern and effect malaria control projects.  In late August 1898, whilst dissecting the stomach tissue of mosquitoes who had been fed the blood of malaria patients, he observed and documented the development of the malaria parasite.  His discovery changed the world.

When a malaria-infected mosquito bites a human, mosquito saliva containing the malaria parasites is absorbed into the victim’s bloodstream. Within 30 minutes these parasites begin to multiply in the human host liver.  In as little as 6 days the deadliest form of malaria can leave the liver re-entering the host’s blood stream.  Once in the blood stream, the parasite invades red blood cells and the damage begins.

Red blood cells, the workhorse that carry oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, do not circulate normally when infected with the parasite, and often produce a protein that encourages the cells to adhere to the walls of smaller blood vessels. This stickiness keeps infected cells away from the spleen’s protective filtering actions, and the cells create a massive traffic jam that may result in the blockage of blood vessels, causing the dysfunction of major organs and tissue death.

The death of millions of parasitized red blood cells, coupled with the human host’s inability to replace these cells rapidly leads to sever anemia and reduced oxygen availability for vital organs.

When malaria is left undiagnosed or insufficiently treated death can result in as little as two days.

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With my fellow pulse volunteer Gatit Sasanti (Indonesia)

‘No do ova-sabi with malaria’

‘Don’t think you know everything about Malaria’

Time to Fight: Test and Treat

 

…..Whose story will you tell today?