Who introduced malaria in which century, how does it cause malaria and what is the virus’ name?
Malaria wasn’t introduced; it has been evolving alongside humans for thousands, if not millions of years. The first known mention of malaria by humans is in an ancient Chinese medical text, from 2700 BCE (before common era). Other ancient people, such as the Romans and the Greeks, knew the symptoms of malaria and described it in writing.
Malaria is actually not caused by a virus, but a single-celled animal called a protozoan. The genus name of the protozoans that cause malaria is Plasmodium, and there are five main species that infect humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi.
The malaria parasites cause the disease by entering into red blood cells and multiplying; when they have reproduced, they burst out of the red blood cell, destroying it. The patient’s blood is therefore rapidly full of malaria parasites, their waste products, plus bits of destroyed red blood cell; this produces an extreme immune reaction which causes many of the symptoms of malaria. In infection with P. falciparum, the most deadly and severe kind, infection with the parasite causes red blood cells to sequester in tiny red blood cells within major organs, causing reduced oxygen flow and complications. When this occurs in the brain, the result is cerebral malaria, which can result in convulsions and even a coma.