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Who Discovered Malaria?

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A number of physicians have contributed to the discovery of malaria. During the 1880s, three physicians, Dr. Leonard White, Theobald Smith, Carlos Finlay were researching on the origins and causes of malaria and the link between malaria and mosquitoes. Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran, a French army doctor, was the first person to identify parasites inside the blood cells of malaria patients and thus reached the conclusion that the disease is caused by an organism.

Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran and Sir Ronald RossCharles Louis Alphonse Laveran identified the parasites that cause malaria while Sir Ronald Ross discovered how the parasite works. He also identified that the parasite is present in a particular genus of mosquito, the Anopheles. Both men won the Nobel Prize.

Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran

He received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1907 for his contribution in determining the cause for malaria. However, the most important contribution in understanding malaria came from Sir Ronald Ross, a British physician and researcher. He was born on May 13th, 1857 in India. He studied medicine in England and served in the Indian Medical Service.

Sir Ronald Ross

From 1882 and 1899, he worked at the Presidency General Hospital in Calcutta, India. He started researching about malaria about the same time as the rest of the researchers. For his research, he built a laboratory in Mahanad village. He would collect mosquitoes from Mahanad and adjoining villages to study their connection with malaria.

Carlos Finlay

By then Carlos Finlay had already described the possibility of malaria being a mosquito born disease when he was researching the yellow fever disease in Cuba in the 1880s. The theory was later verified in 1897. It was Sir Ronald Ross who was able to identify the presence of the malarial parasite within a species of mosquito called the Anopheles. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1902 for this revolutionary discovery about malaria. He died on September 16th, 1932 in England.