Slap! The invasive bite of a mosquito floods the human bloodstream with unwelcome saliva. While most mosquito bites are a source of skin irritation, infected mosquitoes can transmit germs that cause yellow fever, dengue and malaria in humans. Malaria is a harmful disease that has great effect worldwide. It is responsible for about two million deaths a year. What does the Anopheles mosquito look like? Is there a cure for this disease?
What is Malaria?
The transmitter of the pathogen that causes malaria is the female Anopheles mosquito. Malaria exists in Asia, Africa and Brazil. The Anopheles mosquito, or more commonly referred to as the “common malaria” mosquito, transmits deadly pathogens. Out of the total 380 species of Anopheles mosquitoes, 60 carry the germs that cause malaria.
The Cycle and Symptoms
To avoid the disease, some people take anti-malarial drugs. Yet in some cases, they can still get malaria. Unfortunately, there is currently no known vaccine developed for malaria.
In order for a person to contract malaria, a female Anopheles mosquito uses its proboscis to penetrate the victim’s skin. While the mosquito is biting, saliva flows into the victim’s skin to ease the pain. The saliva is where the protozoan is located.
Meanwhile, as the victim is just noticing the bite, the germs will start to flow into the bloodstream and into the liver where the germs multiply and kill liver cells. Then the germs travel to the bloodstream again, multiply again and kill blood cells. At this time, the victim will have a fever and feel very weak. The pathogens continue attacking until the body can no longer resist. Symptoms for malaria include fever, vomiting, headaches, and fatigue. Victims will feel cold for several hours. Then the victim’s temperature will rise and the victim will start sweating. The victim’s temperature will then fluctuate for several days.
Where is Malaria?
Currently malaria is found in:
- South America (except Chile)
- Sri Lanka
- The Philippines
- Central America
- And other places on the map
A Vicious Lady
There are many kinds of mosquitoes that transmit pathogens that cause disease in humans. The Culex pipien, or the “northern house” mosquito, transmits the pathogens that cause yellow fever in humans. Some other species like the Aedes albopictus, more commonly known as the “Asian tiger” mosquito, also can transmit yellow fever and dengue fever. Only the Anopheles mosquito can transmit malaria.
Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water and bunches them together into a raft. Other mosquitoes lay their eggs singly. The Anopheles mosquito’s eggs have air chambers to keep them afloat. A female can lay up to 400 eggs if she has had a blood meal. A blood meal occurs when the mosquito bites and sucks the blood from the mammal’s system.
Mosquitoes find their victims by following the trail of carbon dioxide that is exhaled. Only the females can penetrate human skin. “The male doesn’t have a strong proboscis because its proboscis has a less complex apparatus and is not able to pierce the skin.”
The eggs will hatch in about 24-72 hours depending on temperature of the water.” When they hatch, out comes the larva from the egg. The larva eats algae and food from the water. “They have mouth brushes to filter the water and collect algae in their mouth to eat.” As the larva grows, it will eventually shed its skin and larger skin forms on it. “As the larva approaches its moult, it begins developing the body of a pupa. Different features occur while changing to a pupa.
The head and thorax rest on the surface of the water as the body of an adult begins to form, when the mosquito is in its pupal stage. Males usually hatch out of their pupa form before females. The usual position to hatch out of the pupa is parallel to the surface.
The Anopheles mosquito likes tropical or subtropical areas best for breeding. They prefer lakes or swamps for laying their eggs. This is why malaria is more common in Africa than it is here in the United States.
Malaria originally started in central Africa and spread to Rome where populations were destroyed in the cities. Then, in 1896, an American Army physician found out about mosquitoes that carried diseases and how to eliminate them. (see Control and Avoiding Malaria)
Prevention and Treatment
Unlike some other diseases, malaria has no cure, but you can treat malaria to relieve symptoms. What makes malaria so dangerous is that the parasite stays in your body forever.
Since 1638, malaria had been treated with an extract from the bark of a cinchona tree. The treatment formula was somewhat toxic and suppressed the growth of protozoan in the bloodstream. Today, people treat malaria with a less toxic substance.
The three types of anti-malarial medicines to relieve the infected person are called Chloroquine, Doxycycline, and Melfoquine. Which one to take depends on the geographical area: different medications have different effectiveness. that you’re currently in. Medication also depends on which protozoan parasite was transmitted. The four kinds are called Plasmodium faciparum, Plasmodium Vixax, Plasmodium Ovale, and Plasmodium malaria.
If malaria is are treated on time, especially P. faciparum, then it can lead to many problems. The disease kills brain cells and can lead to anemia, which can render the person the unconscious. In some cases the victim may actually die, if treatment is delayed.
Control and Avoiding Malaria
“There are some methods to control the Anopheles mosquito from biting a human. There is an insecticide called ‘larvicides’ that kills mosquito larvae. That way the larvae won’t mature to an adult and won’t affect humans. The fish is a considered a predator to the mosquito, which helps control the population.”
If you don’t want to get malaria, avoid places that are known to have a problem with malaria. You could wear long pants and sweaters, so your skin isn’t exposed to the mosquito. Spraying bug repellent might help mosquitoes stay away from you, but it is not a guarantee.
There are many ways malaria can harm you. The protozoan that is infecting you stays in your body for the rest of your life. Sometimes it will affect you, and sometimes you’ll feel fine. It is important to know the symptoms of malaria to know whether or not you’re infected with the germs that cause malaria. Hopefully someday, there will be a cure or a vaccine for malaria.