- Published on 24 September 2010
.. is a disease caused by a parasite of the genus Plasmodium and transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles.
There are over 150 species of Plasmodium that infect different vertebrates, but only four (P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale and P. malariae) infect humans. The two most common are:
P. falciparum - which has a global distribution but is most common in Africa, is the most aggressive species, cause nd death mainly by comma or anemia.
P. vivax - worldwide distribution - can cause debilitating and recurrent infections, but rarely kills.
Malaria is not a problem for tropical countries. Is a global problem, affecting more than 100 countries.
Weather changes (with subsequent increase in temperature) and population movements can alter the distribution map of the disease. Half the world population 2500 million people live at risk of acquiring the disease.
Between 300 and 500 million people fall ill with malaria every year and kills about 3 million each year (a few hundred people each time). Every minute, 3 to 5 children die from malaria. Every hour, malaria kills more people than the Ebola epidemic in Zaire in 1995. However, malaria is not recognized in the first world as a public health catastrophe, like AIDS or Ebola. Malaria kills almost as many people as AIDS has killed over the past 15 years. But not "surrender" advertising, exotic viruses or disasters that kill many people quickly, generate better headlines.