Who discovered malaria?
People have known about malaria for thousands of years—the first record of it comes from 2700 BCE, in an ancient Chinese medical text. Other ancient peoples, such as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, also knew the symptoms associated with malaria. But it wasn’t until the 19th century that the causes of malaria were understood. In 1880, a French physician named Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran first saw the parasites that cause malaria in the blood of a patient. By 1886, Camillo Golgi, an Italian physiologist, had observed that there were at least two separate types of malaria, which produced different length cycles of fever during the clinical presentation. These two forms were later called Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium malariae. It wasn’t until more than a decade later, in 1897/1898, that the method of transmission of malaria was first understood – Ronald Ross, a British army doctor, showed that malaria could be passed from a human patient to a mosquito vector, and also between infected hosts using mosquitoes. He won the Nobel Prize for medicine for his work in 1902.
Since then, research on malaria has expanded exponentially, with particular attention giving to understanding ways in which the parasite can be therapeutically halted, thus leading to the discovery of new malaria medications.