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Malaria: The Buzz of Death
July 18, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

This year, 500 million people will get malaria and about a million of them will die from it. Some scientists believe that one out of every two people who have ever lived have died of malaria. Here are some reports from Sierra Leone on efforts to control this deadly disease.
posted by mattbucher (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I heard this DDT stuff was pretty good at killing mosquitos.
posted by chlorus at 1:01 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Then she plunges her stiletto mouthparts into the skin."

Hey, that's great. This person should write vampire erotica.
posted by hermitosis at 1:09 PM on July 18, 2007


On a good note, mosquitoes with glowing gonads may be the future to fighting malaria.

And I think that, living in the future as we do, if we can't have flying cars, and jetpacks, we should at least be grateful that we have finally beaten that whole insects-who's-balls-don't-glow thing.
posted by quin at 1:14 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Thank God for the sickle cell huh, Eightball?"
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2007


"Fifty thousand of them could swim in a pool the size of the period at the end of this sentence."

My disgust reflex has me swatting at that period to keep it from touching the words on either side of it.
posted by hermitosis at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Profit models are BAD for science, and especially for health reasearch and health in general.
posted by zouhair at 1:19 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


What a harrowing read, that article. Thx.
posted by progosk at 1:28 PM on July 18, 2007


Yes, but 3000 Americans died on September 11th. 3000. Think about it. Using the American Relative Death Value Chart, I see that your 250 million dead equals approximately 7.3 American lives.

Nice try. Next issue, please.
posted by flarbuse at 1:33 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


A fantastic article. I both illuminated an light-headed. And now I'm going to go throw up.
posted by hermitosis at 1:38 PM on July 18, 2007


Gin and tonic protects against this, right?
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:38 PM on July 18, 2007


From the article: Malaria is not transmitted by witchcraft...

Liberal media lies.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:40 PM on July 18, 2007


Also, a really kickass novel about the discovery of malaria is Amitav Ghosh's "The Calcutta Chromosome."
posted by mattbucher at 1:42 PM on July 18, 2007


By this point, the fever has reached maximum intensity. The body is practically boiling itself to death—anything to halt the attack—but to no avail. The parasites can even commandeer blood cells to help aid their survival. In some cases of falciparum, infected cells sprout Velcro-like knobs on their surfaces, and as these cells pass through the capillaries of the brain, they latch to the sides. The adhesion keeps them from washing into the spleen, which cleans the blood by shredding damaged cells. Somehow—no one is quite sure how—the adhesion also causes the brain to swell. The infection has turned into cerebral malaria, the most feared manifestation of the disease.

There are even Boy Scout merit badges for knowledge about malaria.


Ay yay yi! I finished this article feeling soooo damn lucky to have been born in a wealthy country. I mean, when I was a Cub Scout, back in the seventies, we were getting badges for things like tying knots and citizenship. Not malaria prevention.
posted by jason's_planet at 1:42 PM on July 18, 2007


man, mosquitoes suck.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:46 PM on July 18, 2007


Looking fwd to reading this article for support to that "half the deaths ever" assertion. I always (mis?)understood that malaria itself doesn't necessarily kill the victim so much as debilitating him/her to the point where some other, normally less-than-lethal disease process does. (Or is that pathological hairsplitting?)
posted by pax digita at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2007


Well they pull that Katie-Couric-on-John-Edwards-technique of "some scientists say." It's a pretty weak rhetorical device. Some scientists say that malaria is a caused by a small toad or dwarf living in the stomach.
posted by mattbucher at 1:57 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some scientists say that malaria is a caused by a small toad or dwarf living in the stomach.

As I asserted above, and despite what the liberal media wants you to believe, malaria is in fact caused by witchcraft. Or at least, that's what some scientists say.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2007


I heard this DDT stuff was pretty good at killing mosquitos.

It is and despite what anti-environmentalists say it is still in use.
posted by srboisvert at 2:06 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


pax digita, malaria can definitely kill you, particularly the p. falciparum variety. No question however that the other varieties can be debilitating, but often not enough to kill you. It's a clever little bugger that way- the fever cycles alternate with periods of relative functionality, so in between bouts of fever and rigoring the host can still go scratch out a living and the parasite can continue with its life cycle.
posted by ambrosia at 2:12 PM on July 18, 2007


Gin and tonic protects against this, right?

infinitywaltz, I am happy to inform you that gin and tonic protects against everything. Mmmm, crisp panacea...
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2007


An old friend contracted malaria somewhere in the jungles of World War II. He has had recurrences throughout his civilian life, but is alive at 82 or 83
posted by Cranberry at 2:34 PM on July 18, 2007


infinitywaltz, I am happy to inform you that gin and tonic protects against everything. Mmmm, crisp panacea...

Shhh! Keep that on the down-low, or everyone will want some!
posted by Brak at 2:49 PM on July 18, 2007


I died of malaria last week. Sucked.
posted by mrnutty at 2:51 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I read an article recently about Jimmy Carter's work on malaria in Africa. What impressed me about his organization is that rather than micromanaging or putting staff on the ground, they focus on helping local organizations that are already working on the problem.
posted by lbergstr at 2:54 PM on July 18, 2007


I heard this DDT stuff was pretty good at killing mosquitos.

It still is in Africa. It was in India but by time the Stockholm accords forbade its use for anything but control of disease vectors the local population was immune.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:01 PM on July 18, 2007


I remember hearing an interview with a doctor who served with the Australian army in Papua New Guniea during WWII. He described treating 2000 cases of malaria per year in a force of 1000 men.

This blog has written extensively on the DDT/malaria issue.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:13 PM on July 18, 2007


I read a great book on this subject, and mosquito eradication efforts in Brazil. If I recall the book correctly, Fred Soper was an interesting character in the mosquito eradication process.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:28 PM on July 18, 2007


More than half of the people I know who've been to PNG came back with malaria. The problem is that Melbourne doctors have trouble diagnosing it. In the most recent case, my friend was told "you do not have malaria" and just kept taking painkillers until he was hospitalised ... with malaria.
posted by nomis at 4:20 PM on July 18, 2007


I had a friend who came down with cerebral malaria in Kenya, she described it as a very trippy, surreal experience, to this day she can not differentiate between, memory or hallucination probably where the witchcraft rumors got started
posted by kanemano at 5:29 PM on July 18, 2007


that one out of every two people who have ever lived have died of malaria.

How could this be? I thought in prehistorical tribal times nobody died of Malaria.
posted by tkchrist at 5:45 PM on July 18, 2007


It is and despite what anti-environmentalists say it is still in use.

What on earth is an "anti-environmentalist"?
posted by orange swan at 6:48 PM on July 18, 2007


I thought in prehistorical tribal times nobody died of Malaria.

Nobody died of anything but extreme old age in prehistorical tribal times. They never got cavities or cellulite either.
posted by fshgrl at 6:52 PM on July 18, 2007


insects have
their own point
of view about
civilization a man
thinks he amounts
to a great deal
but to a
flea or a
mosquito a
human being is
merely something
good to eat

--- don marquis, archy and mehitabel
posted by SPrintF at 6:54 PM on July 18, 2007


What on earth is an "anti-environmentalist"?

DOWN WITH AIR! UP WITH LEAD!

THE ONLY GOOD CARBON BASED LIFE FORM IS A DEAD CARBON BASED LIFE FORM!!!
posted by tkchrist at 7:12 PM on July 18, 2007


A thought struck me when reading this: whether you can get HIV from mosquitos.

God bless google - the money quote follows.

Many people think of mosquitoes as tiny, flying hypodermic syringes, [but] unlike a syringe, the mosquito delivers salivary fluid through one passage and draws blood up another. As a result, the food canal is not flushed out like a used needle, and blood flow is always unidirectional.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:08 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


THANK YOU Samuel Farrow, for answering a question that I've never heard answered satisfactorily. Even doctors -- not that they should know the ins and outs of mosquitos, necessarily -- have been satisfied to sit on "because they can't" which just drives me up the wall.

Great synchronicity, this post, btw, in that I was just turning in to bed at about 4:30am this morning having been on a travel vaccination site, partly to look at maps of resistant-strain malaria, and decided to check MeFi before sleep. Too tired to post then, though.

Malaria is the poster child for charity by popularity and personal gain. It's only started getting funding since global warming has seen the tsetse creeping up Latin America toward the southern U.S., despite killing far more people than diseases which get intensely funded. I wish the Ron Paul boosters in that other thead would stop over here and tell us why charity by popularity is such a good idea.
posted by dreamsign at 12:55 AM on July 19, 2007


Oh, and

It plunges its stiletto mouthparts into the skin or it gets the mefloquine again.
posted by dreamsign at 12:56 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


What on earth is an "anti-environmentalist"?

I'll take this as some sort of lead-based humour.
posted by srboisvert at 2:13 AM on July 19, 2007


dream--

...something is very wrong with you.

*cracking up*
posted by effugas at 4:04 AM on July 19, 2007


I think there's conflict in the environmental movement about whether Malaria, West Nile virus, Equine Encephalitis, and other mosquito spread diseases are actually worse than anything that could be caused by neurotoxins like DDT or DEET.
posted by destro at 7:18 AM on July 19, 2007


How could this be? I thought in prehistorical tribal times nobody died of Malaria.

I knew somebody would mention something like this. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos, and mosquitos nest in standing water, which is generally part of tropical agriculture techniques. It's pretty well established that while malaria must have occured among hunter-gatherers, it didn't become a major killer until tropical-area agriculturalists started settling large human population amidst mosquito nesting grounds.

Of course, since agriculture also leads to systemic overpopulation, yeah, you could have half of everyone who's ever lived dying of malaria. There's no denying that if you look at "people who have ever lived" cross against time, it's a very top-heavy graph.

Nobody died of anything but extreme old age in prehistorical tribal times. They never got cavities or cellulite either.

People died of disease and injury from time to time, it just wasn't as common. As for cavities, cavities form from the bacterial environment your mouth forms from the reaction of amylase and carbohydrates, so without a high-carbohydrate diet (as in, cereal grains), no, incidence of cavities was near zero. When was the last time you saw any other animal brushing its teeth? Forming cavities should be your first big red flag that something's gone seriously wrong in your evolution. As for cellulite, it's hard to build that up when "work" is going for a six-hour walk twice a week.

Sorry for the interruption, hope that doesn't derail the discussion.
posted by jefgodesky at 9:10 AM on July 19, 2007


People died of disease and injury from time to time, it just wasn't as common

That is a pretty fantastic claim. I'd assume dying from injury would be far more common. I'd like some sort of evidence before I buy that one.


When was the last time you saw any other animal brushing its teeth? Forming cavities should be your first big red flag that something's gone seriously wrong in your evolution.


When was the last time you took your dog to the vet? Did they check its teeth? Cavities in the animal kingdom are not unheard of. The thing is, the animals can't tie a kerchief around their head to signal a toothache.

As for cellulite, it's hard to build that up when "work" is going for a six-hour walk twice a week.

Really? Because I have seen ballerinas with cellulite. I'd assume there pretty active.
posted by srboisvert at 2:29 AM on July 20, 2007


Rather than further detail this thead, srboisvert, I answered your comments in the other thread on this topic.
posted by jefgodesky at 7:57 AM on July 20, 2007


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