Malaria: Evolving (or manipulated by a compassionate God?)

Every year malaria kills almost a million children annually. The Understanding Evolution site has an new page on Malaria and how it is changing in response to our medical treatments:

Malaria infects more than 250 million people a year and kills almost one million — most of them children. The disease is curable with the right treatment, but this year scientists announced that it may not be curable for long. Strains of malaria that have evolved resistance to our most effective drug, artemisinin, have been discovered in western Cambodia and could spread to the rest of the world. Understanding the environment that contributed to this worrisome evolutionary step is helping scientists, doctors, and policymakers develop effective strategies for keeping resistant strains of malaria in check.

See the complete article at: Fighting the evolution of malaria in Cambodia .

The life cycle of malaria parasites in the human body. A mosquito infects a person by taking a blood meal. First, sporozoites enter the bloodstream, and migrate to the liver. They infect liver cells (hepatocytes), where they multiply into merozoites, rupture the liver cells, and escape back into the bloodstream. Then, the merozoites infect red blood cells, where they develop into ring forms, then trophozoites (a feeding stage), then schizonts (a reproduction stage), then back into merozoites. Sexual forms called gametocytes are also produced, which, if taken up by a mosquito, will infect the insect and continue the life cycle. (Image and lifecycle information from Wikipedia

Some Key facts (from WHO website):

  • Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.
  • There were 247 million cases of malaria in 2006, causing nearly one million deaths, mostly among African children.
  • Malaria is preventable and curable.
  • Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries.
  • Travellers from malaria-free areas to disease “hot spots” are especially vulnerable to the disease.
  • Malaria takes an economic toll – cutting economic growth rates by as much as 1.3% in countries with high disease rates.

For more information on malaria and its effects visit:

 

 

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