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Malaria (20th Century-Present)

  • By: Paul P. Rega
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Malaria (mala aria, or bad air) is an infectious disease that through the centuries has hindered the social, political, and economic progress of cultures and populations in the regions where it has flourished. It is a parasitic disease caused by the specific protozoa of the genus Plasmodium and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito (the vector).

Five species of Plasmodium are known to cause disease in man: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. knowlesi. The most infections worldwide are caused by P. falciparum and vivax, and of the two, P. falciparum is responsible for the most serious and potentially fatal cases.

Incidence, Infection, and Risk

In the first half of the 20th century, there was a significant ...

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