Today is World Mosquito Day, which marks the day that Sir Ronald Ross discovered that female mosquitoes were responsible for transmitting malaria between humans (thank you, Wikipedia!). Apparently this day has been marked since 1897!
As Nigerians we’re well aware that malaria can be a serious illness if not dealt with immediately. Whenever we’re in Nigeria, one of our cousins gets malaria, and it’s not nice to see normally vibrant people looking so sluggish and genuinely ill. Thankfully they’ve always recovered and bounced back to their normal selves! I can’t wait for a vaccine for malaria to be discovered (and I’m hopeful it’ll be in our lifetime).
When traveling to Nigeria, malaria pills are part of my pre-travel routine, even though they cost about $6 per week and one needs to start using them before leaving, and then for several weeks upon returning. Before traveling, I check to see if there are any better (and less expensive, lol!) pills out there aside from my beloved Mefloquine and so far there aren’t. The other thing I check for is to make sure that Mefloquine is still an effective antimalarial because these mosquitoes have been known to develop resistance to other antimalarials that were used in the past.
One amazing thing about this whole malaria thing is the discovery over 50 years ago that the gene mutation that causes the sickle cell trait (AS) actually provides protection against malaria (here’s an explanation of how this works)! It’s amazing how the body has adapted to make the best of a potentially fatal situation. If you don’t have the sickle cell trait, your experience of malaria will likely be more intense and serious than someone who is AS.
I wish I could say that I plan to celebrate World Mosquito Day by allowing mosquitoes to roam freely on my body but as I scratch away at my bitten legs, I feel no pity for the mosquito. Maybe next on the list they could consider a vaccine that prevents mosquitos from biting humans and animals?
if you want to know more about malaria or World Mosquito Day visit Malaria No More, a UK website with a self-explanatory name!
Have you ever had malaria?