Malaria is an infectious disease spread by the Anopheles mosquito (Garner, 2000). This dreadful ailment has afflicted mankind for eons and continues to pose a tremendous threat to human life (B. Cunha and A. Cunha, 2008, p. 194).The first acknowledged information on the symptoms of malaria appeared in the Nei Ching around 2700 BC and the first discovery of malaria parasites in human blood was by Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran in the 1800s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2010). Soon afterwards, Ronald Ross discovered that the mosquitoes are indeed the ones responsible for the transmission of malaria (CDC, 2010). Since its discovery, malaria has become a leading cause of human fatality globally (CDC, 2010). According to a report of 2011, malaria is estimated to have caused 0.781 million fatalities in Africa in 2009 (World Health Organization [WHO], 2011). The resilience of malaria has been attributed to various factors such as resistance of plasmodium to existing medication, climate change, and inefficient health services in some nations as well as the failure of counter malaria national programs (Garner, 2000). Despite the intense global interventions to curb the disease, malaria remains a challenge.
The Anopheles gambiae, a species of the Anopheles mosquito, is known for its principal role of transmitting the most fatal strain of the malaria parasite known as Plasmodium falciparum (Oyewole et al., 2010, p. 52). The metamorphosis of the Anopheles mosquito involves four subsequent stages; egg, larva, pupa and adult (Eckhoff, 2011, p.5). The adult stage of the Anopheles mosquito is the one responsible for the transmission of the malaria parasite (Eckhoff, 2011, p.5). Stagnant water coupled with humid temperatures have been proven to be the most conducive for mosquito breeding (Okech et al., 2007).Mosquitoes mate while flying after which the female partakes of a blood meal to provide energy and nutrients required for egg formation. (Eckhoff, 2011, p.4).
The natural science of malaria entails malaria parasites transmitting the disease to two types of hosts namely the female Anopheles mosquitoes and human beings (Eckhoff, 2011, p.4). Parasites firstly develop in the Anopheles mosquito then infect an individual upon a bite. After this, the malaria parasites begin multiplying within the liver before commencing to the red blood (CDC, 2010). The continual reproduction of the parasites causes a destruction of the red blood cells and a release of merozoites which maintain this cycle by attacking other red blood cells (CDC, 2010).
The blood phase parasites are responsible for the signs of malaria in man (Eckhoff, 2011, p.7). When some types of blood phase parasites (gametocytes) are collected by a female Anopheles mosquito at some point in a blood meal, they begin another, different series of development and multiplication within the mosquito’s gut (sporogonic cycle) (Eckhoff, 2011, p.7).10-18 days later, the mosquito’s exhibit parasites (sporozoites) inside the salivary glands (CDC, 2010). Once the Anopheles mosquito bites a different person, the sporozoites are passed on together with the mosquito’s saliva and begin another infection in a person when they attack the liver cells (Eckhoff, 2011, p.7). Therefore acting as a vector, the mosquito transmits the illness from one person to another. Unlike the human host, the vector is unharmed by the parasitic infection (CDC, 2010).
The human host begins experiencing malaria symptoms such as fever and headaches 10-15 days after the infectious mosquito bite (World Health Organization [WHO], 2011). These should receive prompt medical attention to avoid subsequent complication which could lead to death (World Health Organization, 2011).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010, February 8). Malaria. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/facts.html
Cunha, A., & Cunha, B. (2008, September). Brief history of the clinical diagnosis of malaria: From Hippocrates to Osler. J Vector Bourne, pp. 194-199. Retrieved from http://www.mrcindia.org/journal/issues/453194.pdf
Eckhoff, P. (2011). A malaria transmission-directed model of mosquito life cycle and ecology. Malaria Journal, 10(303), 5-7. Retrieved from http://www.malariajournal.com/content/pdf/1475-2875-10-303.pdf
Garner, D. (2000, February). Malaria bites back. Geographical, 72(2), 54. Retrieved from Qestia Retrieved from http://www.Questia.com
Okech, A,. Gouagna, C,. Yan, G,. Githure, I,. & Beier, C. (2007, April 30). Larval habitats of Anopheles gambiae s.s (Diptera: Culicidae) influences vector competence to Plasmodium falciparum parasites. Malaria Journal, 6(50). doi:10.1186/1475-2875-6-50
Oyewole, I.O., Ibidapo, C.A., Okwa, O.O., Oduola, A.O., Adeoye, G.O., Okoh, H.I. & Awolola, T.S. (2010). Species composition and role of Anopheles mosquitoes in malaria transmission along Badagry Axis of Lagos lagoon, Lagos, Nigeria. International Journal of Insect Science, 2. 51-57. Retrieved from http://www.la-press.com
World Health Organization. (2011, October). Malaria. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/