Comes from contemporary Itlalian mal aria, bad air, a belief that the miasma from swamps caused the disease, led to the invention of air conditioning to treat it.

malaria map

This WHO malaria site gives a good summation of the disease and its effects
Distributed throughout tropical regions it kills 1.5 million a year

malaria skin

NYTimes article on fighting new strains of malaria

malaria strain

Quinine derivatives such as chloroquine are generally effective at preventing, treating and curing malaria, however resistant plasmodia are spreading. It isn't known how these drugs work but it is believed they interfere with the protozoans ability to process the excess hemes after they devour the hemoglobin. The heme products may form reactive oxygen species which destroy the red cell's membrane. The cell becomes leaky and is no longer a suitable home for the pathogen.



Distribution of Malaria

Distribution of Sickle Cell Gene

malaria distribution map 1
malaria distribution map 2
















sickle cell hemoglobin has a single mutation that causes the protein to polymerize under certain conditions.

red blood cellscellscells 2

Structure of a HbS pair shows the amino acid substitution results in a sticky patch that causes the hemoglobin to polymerize into spikes under certain conditions (low pH, low Oxygen) . The parasite causes these conditions to be amplified so that red cells with the sickle trait that are infected, preferentialy sickle, leak potassium and become toxic to the plasmodium.

Those who are homozygous in the sickle cell gene will have problems with sickling under milder conditions in the absence of the parasite.


One treatment is to induce the formation of fetal hemoglobin with molecules such as hydroxyurea