19 APR, 2013
World Malaria Day recognises global efforts being made in the fight against malaria. First established in 2007 by the World Health Assembly, it falls on 25 April every year.
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites (Plasmodium species) which enter the body when infected mosquitoes feed on human blood. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2010, there were approximately 219 million cases of malaria and 660,000 deaths. In addition to malaria, mosquitoes can carry the infectious agent for a number of other diseases including yellow fever, West Nile virus, and Dengue fever.
Our image of the month is this photograph of a mosquito in flight. This particular species, Anopheles stephensi, is one of the major vectors responsible for transmitting human malaria in India and some parts of Asia. The photograph was taken by Hugh Sturrock in 2005 when he was an undergraduate student in Professor Andrew Read’s laboratory at the University of Edinburgh. Blood is clearly visible in the mosquito’s swollen abdomen. When asked how he captured the shot, Hugh said “I fed several mosquitoes, put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to subdue them, and then caught one in a pair of tweezers. I took the shot just as she was warming up and flapping her wings.” Hugh’s image won aWellcome Image Award in 2006.
Hugh now works as an epidemiologist in the Malaria Elimination Initiative, part of the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco. His work focuses on understanding how and where clusters of malaria develop (transmission hotspots). In doing so, strategies to eliminate malaria in these remaining regions can hopefully be applied more cost effectively