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Malaria Parasite Plasmodium and the Epidemiology of the Disease

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The Malaria Parasite Plasmodium and the Epidemiology of the Disease

Abstract

For ages malaria has affected mankind in almost all parts of the world. It has left a deep imprint on people who have been affected with the disease, and even today in countries where epidemics are common, malaria is a constant threat to people's daily lives. Malaria is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium (phylum Apicomplexa), and there are four species in the genus that cause the disease in humans. Their primary hosts and transmission vectors are female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles; humans act as intermediate hosts. Places near the equator with a warm, subtropical climate are most susceptible to malaria endemics. More than half of the cases of malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa. It was only recently that developments have been made to research the eradication of the disease on a global scale.

Malaria, Italian for ?bad air?, is an infectious disease which for nearly 4,000 years has terrorized mankind in many parts of the world. It has greatly influenced human populations and human history, and even today, malaria is a leading cause of disease and death in the world with over one million deaths every year (Sherman 91). This means that every 30 seconds, a person dies from malaria. Unfortunately, the general public knows only little about the disease, which is one of the key reasons as to why so many people suffer from malaria. However, since the turn of the 20th century, a great deal of knowledge has been uncovered by microbiologists about this merciless killer.

The biology behind malaria is extremely complex. As opposed to popular belief, malaria is actually a family of four different diseases caused by four different parasi...

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