What is the Connection Between Malaria and Mosquitoes?

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  • Written By: Kathy Heydasch
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2018
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Scientists established a firm connection between malaria and mosquitoes in the late 1800s, and have determined that mosquitoes are single-handedly responsible for the transmission of malaria to over 250 million people throughout the world each year. Malaria is a deadly disease spread through mosquito bites throughout the tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. If a female mosquito bites an infected person, the parasite plasmodium then begins to multiply within the mosquito. Approximately one week later when the mosquito is on the hunt again, it can bite another person, and the exchange that occurs can result in the transmission of the parasite to a new host.

When a mosquito bites a person, there is an exchange of the mosquito’s saliva and the person’s blood which takes place. During this exchange, the parasite can be transmitted from person to mosquito or vice versa. After the parasite is transferred to a new human host, it can remain in the liver for anywhere from weeks to years before the symptoms begin to develop. Classic symptoms of malaria include fever, vomiting, anemia, joint pain, and retinal damage. Severe cases can cause brain damage or even death.


Malaria and mosquitoes pose quite a threat to modern culture since there is no vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus. It is estimated that the virus is responsible for more than 250 million cases of the disease, and it results in death in about one to three million of these. Most of the deaths occur in young children in the regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers are still trying to produce an effective vaccine against the virus. Until one can be found, however, the techniques to reduce malaria and mosquitoes throughout the world are virtually the same. These include the widespread use of mosquito nets, insect repellents, and insecticides. Once a person has become infected, there are a variety of medicines on the market that can potentially save the life of the infected person if treated properly.

The link between malaria and mosquitoes was established in the late 1800s. It is estimated that malaria has infected people for more than 50,000 years. Further, the study of malaria and mosquitoes has revealed that malaria may have been caused by the same one-celled parasite, plasmodium, during that entire time. There are five species of the parasite that can cause malaria in varying degrees of severity, but only one that causes malaria that is potentially fatal, plasmodium falciparum.



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