Malaria vs Corona: facts, facts, facts!

Written by Raphaela Reiser & Carolin Degener April 23rd, 2020

Hi guys,

I hope you are all doing well! April 25 is World Malaria Day, but I can imagine that this isn’t the first thing on your minds. You're probably more concerned about the infamous Corona virus right now - and rightly so.

So far there are around 2.5 million known Covid-19 cases worldwide and approximately 170,000 of them have been fatal. Thankfully, mosquitoes cannot carry the Corona virus; however, the pandemic seems to be spreading even further.

For a long time, countries in the northern hemisphere have been spared from such drastic scenarios and fortunately, there are many people working hard to develop rapid tests, medication and vaccines against this disease. This new type of corona virus shows us once again the danger that an infectious disease can pose to everyday life, health care, society, and the economy. Unfortunately, in many regions of the world it does not remain exclusively one serious infectious disease. Apart from corona, other diseases have very similar effects on people's daily lives. First and foremost: Malaria! In 2018, around 230,000,000 individuals were infected - that's a lot of zeros. Of these, around 400,000 died from this mosquito-borne disease. Can you imagine, not only 10 years ago there were almost twice as many cases of malaria per year!

Don’t look at me, Marcy Mosquito, though. Malaria is caused by unicellular parasites of the genus Plasmodium that are transmitted by the bite of an infected malaria mosquito (Anopheles). In contrast to me and my conspecifics, these are nocturnal and the most dangerous animal in the world! It is hard to believe that such a tiny animal can cause so much harm. Not even humans are responsible for more deaths! Together with the yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti), we tiger mosquitoes are responsible for an estimated 100-400 million dengue cases per year. I have to admit that this is quite a lot, but after all, "only" around 4,000 people die from dengue every year - that is nothing compared to the 400,000 deaths caused by malaria mosquitoes!

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You see that malaria is a serious problem which must be fought with united forces! Especially since Malaria can be prevented, diagnosed AND completely cured! According to the WHO in 2018, for example, only half of the population at risk slept under a bed net impregnated with insecticides, and only about a third of pregnant women in Africa have received the 3 recommended minimum doses of malaria prophylaxis during their pregnancy. Where am I supposed to get my blood meals from if the malaria mosquito keeps taking so many lives?

Researchers are constantly working to develop new strategies for malaria prevention. An important pillar is the direct control of malaria mosquitoes. Biogents - the developers of the best tiger mosquito trap in the world are also involved in this important task. Together with Wageningen University, Biogents has developed a hanging trap against malaria mosquitoes, the BG-Suna. This trap has been tested on a large scale on an island in Kenya - and imagine, in the households where these traps were installed, significantly fewer malaria cases were recorded. 

Covid-19 poses a large threat to our every day lives, and you should definitely take the danger seriously. So always wash your hands thoroughly, keep distance to people who do not live in your own household, and use face masks in places where close contact to others cannot be avoided. But let's not forget about other serious health problems, especially malaria!

Stay healthy!

Your Marcy Mosquito

 

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