Malaria researchers at MIMS, Ellen Bushell and Oliver Billker, reflect on World Malaria Day (25 April)
Written by Nóra Lehotai, MIMS
During the World Health Assembly in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States established 25th April as World Malaria Day. Fourteen years have passed, and malaria is still a global threat, claiming over 400, 000 lives every year, mostly killing children under 5 according to the WHO.
Malaria, an infectious disease, is caused by the unicellular protozoan Plasmodium parasites. These parasites infect the Anopheles mosquitos which become carriers of the parasites and transmit them to humans when the infected female Anopheles mosquito bites us. The parasites are injected from the mosquito’s salivary glands to the blood in the form of sporozoites, which travel to the liver (liver stage) where they multiply and transform into merozoites. The merozoite form invades our red blood cells (RBCs; blood stage), grows, and transforms into trophozoite, schizont and finally, into gametocyte form, which induces the malaria symptoms. The typical incubation period, from the bite until the first symptoms, is 11 days.