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Section 10 – Protozoan Infections

Chapter 73 – Malaria

Nicholas J. White

Malaria is the most important parasitic disease of man. Approximately 5% of the world's population is infected, and it causes over 1 million deaths each year. The disease is a protozoan infection of red blood cells transmitted by the bite of a blood-feeding female anopheline mosquito. Malaria, or ague as it was commonly known, has been described since antiquity. Hippocrates is usually credited with the first clear description among occidental writers: In Epidemics, he distinguished different patterns of fever, and in his Aphorisms he describes the regular paroxysms of intermittent fever. In Europe, seasonal periodic fevers were particularly common in marshy areas, and were frequently referred to as ‘paludial’ (L. palus marshy ground; Fr. paludisme). In the early nineteenth century, miasmatic influences were believed to cause a variety of diseases. Malaria was thought by Italian writers to be caused by the offensive vapours …