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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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.

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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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