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Malaria, mosquitoes and the legacy of Ronald Ross” ? A Commentary

Journal: Annals of Community Health (Vol.1, No. 1)

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Page : 8-12

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Malaria, as we all know today, is a mosquito borne infectious disease caused by genus Plasmodium, a parasitic protozoan. Malaria leads to a high burden of morbidity and mortality around the world, more so in developing countries. We are so well aware of the life cycle of the parasite and the role of the female Anopheles mosquito today that it may sound trivial if someone were to be unaware of mosquito’s role in its transmission. Malaria has been tormenting humans for nearly 4000 years or so. In Susruta Samhita it had been described and attributed to bites of certain insects. However, until Sir Ronald Ross discovered that adult “brown” mosquitoes contained in their midguts some “exceptional cells,” we were unaware of this ubiquitous and innocuous truth. However simple and common knowledge it may sound today, it is difficult to imagine that Ross could do so in pre 1900s (July 1897 to be precise), using very simple and lim-ited equipment and methods. The perseverance of the legend is evident in the fact that he carried on for nearly two years preceding his final success ardently examining about a “thousand brindled, grey and white mosquitoes.” His discovery was fortunate to be shared with scientists and peers from around the world as it was accepted for publication in the prestigious British Medical Journal. Though we may think that Ross was fortunate, to have been accepted with a very limited number of observations and without “appropriate controls,” we must also remember that there was more to it than just simple observation. Ross was perseverant, meticulous and honest as well as modest. He had also taken care to share his find-ings and get second opinions from colleagues and peers. We must appreciate the Editorial and review team of the journal to have recognized the important discovery and encouraged it by going ahead to publish; else we would probably not have known the truth behind role of female Anopheles mosquitoes in malaria.

Last modified: 2014-04-12 15:32:00