How Humans Made Malaria So Deadly
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FYI: We try to leave jargon out of our videos, but if you want to learn more about this topic, here are some keywords to get your googling started:
Malaria – a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Parasite – an organism that benefits by living in/on a host organism and deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.
Host – an organism in/on which another organism lives.
Protozoa – a group of single-celled microscopic animals (not bacteria or viruses) that includes the Plasmodium species.
Plasmodium – a genus of parasitic protozoa, many of which cause malaria in their hosts. Four species regularly infect humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, & P. ovale.
P. falciparum – the Plasmodium species that kills the most people, by causing malignant malaria, the most dangerous form of malaria.
Anopheles gambiae – a ‘complex’ of at least seven species of mosquitoes that are the main vectors of P. falciparum in sub-Saharan Africa.
Species complex – a group of closely related species that look so similar that the boundaries between them are often unclear.
Hunting and gathering – depending primarily on wild foods for subsistence
Paleontology – the study of fossils and what fossils tell us about the past, about evolution, and about how humans fit into the world.
Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Script Editor: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Illustrator: Qingyang Chen
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:
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Carter, R., & Mendis, K. N. (2002). Evolutionary and historical aspects of the burden of malaria. Clinical microbiology reviews, 15(4), 564-594.
Gething, P. W., et al. (2011). A new world malaria map: Plasmodium falciparum endemicity in 2010. Malaria journal, 10(1), 1.
Gething, P. W., et al. (2011). Modelling the global constraints of temperature on transmission of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax. Parasites & Vectors, 4(1), 1.
Hay, S. I., et al. (2004). The global distribution and population at risk of malaria: past, present, and future. The Lancet infectious diseases, 4(6), 327-336.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). (2016). GBD Compare Data Visualization. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington. Retrieved from
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Shah, S. (2010). The Fever: how malaria has ruled humankind for 500,000 years (pp. 1-33). Macmillan.
Sundararaman, S. A., et al. (2016). Genomes of cryptic chimpanzee Plasmodium species reveal key evolutionary events leading to human malaria. Nature communications, 7. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11078
Webb, J. L. (2009). Humanity’s burden: a global history of malaria (pp. 1-91). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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