When was the first case of malaria in humans discovered? What did the name malaria originate from?
Malaria has been known to humans for thousands of years; its earliest record is from around 2700 BCE in an ancient Chinese medical text. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Indians also recorded cases of malaria and described its symptoms. However, the parasite that causes malaria was first observed in a suffering patient in 1880; in 1897 mosquitoes were discovered to be the agents transmitting the parasite, finally allowing doctors to understand the true nature of the disease. The word “malaria” comes from “mala aria”, Italian for “bad air”, hinting at the long-held association between malaria and foul marshy regions with bad smelling air, which dates back as far as the ancient Romans. Indeed, the mosquitoes that spread malaria breed in stagnant water, so the Romans weren’t too far off!