Discovery and Causes of Malaria:
The word malaria comes from an Italian word ‘mala’ meaning bad and ‘aria’ meaning air. Hence the word malaria means bad air. Malaria is spread through stagnant water where poisoned air is found. The breathing of that air causes malaria. This disease was discovered almost 2000 years ago by the physicians. They called it the disease of chills and fever. It was found that malaria was prevalent amongst people who live in ‘low marshy areas’.
Laveran was a French physician who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1907 for his discoveries of parasitic protozoans in blood that cause malaria. Laveran took the blood of some malarial patients and found tiny living organisms in their blood. Those tiny living organisms in their blood were ‘plasmodium’. People did not believe him at first. Several other scientists repeated the same experiment to confirm his findings. Their findings confirmed what Laveran had discovered.
They formed a hypothesis that plasmodium causes malaria. From this hypothesis they deduced that it was essential to find plasmodium in a malarial patient’s blood. Hence they conducted an experiment to confirm their hypothesis.
Two groups were taken for the experiment. Group 1 consisted of normal people that formed the control group. Group 2 consisted of malarial patients. Each group consisted of hundred people. blood samples of every person from each group were taken for examination.
It was found that all of the malarial patients from Group 2 had plasmodium in their blood. Whereas seven people from Group 1 also carried plasmodium in their blood whilst 93 were clear. It was found out upon further experimentation, that although those seven people from Group 1 carried plasmodium in their blood, that plasmodium was in its incubation period. Incubation is the period when the parasite enters the host body but remains dormant and inactive. Hence, this discovery confirmed that malaria was caused by the parasites known as a plasmodium.
Treatment of Malaria:
Then the scientists went on to discover the causes of malaria. They discovered that Quinine was an effective drug for the treatment of malaria. Another surprising finding was that drinking of marshy water helped in avoiding malaria. Then, in 17th century it was discovered that Quina Quina barks could also be used for malaria’s treatment. Cinchona is another drug that can be used to cure malaria.