Malaria Discovery

By: bobeth yates Email
By: bobeth yates Email

Malaria is one of the most infectious diseases. It’s transmitted through a mosquito bite.

Chipola College Virginia Baker says the results can be fatal. "The infection affects every part of the body from the liver to the spleen and then finally to the brain."

Malaria causes more than three million deaths each year.

Most of those occur in subtropical places like Africa and Asia, but Bill Dean, with the Jackson County Health Department says the risk of getting the disease right in your back yard is bigger than you think.

"We have actually had some human cases of malaria in Florida, last year," Dean said.

Officials say the illness doesn't live here, but is brought here.

"There are mosquitoes that are here in Florida that can carry malaria, so if a person made a trip somewhere else, was undiagnosed, went on a fishing trip, a mosquito bit that person, then that mosquito would be able to transmit that disease to another person. And in America, we do not have the immune system to be able to deal with some of these strains especially with Peripheral Malaria,” Baker explains.

Baker says standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes; with no way off fighting off the disease, many have worried about a malaria epidemic, but Baker says now there is hope.

"We were able to find that there was something call nutria-filled extracellular traps; these nest for short actually take the parasite and actually hold onto the parasite and actually kill," Baker continued.

If you look at a series of pictures from a normal cell infected by malaria, you'll see the cell exposed and forms what look like a cloud filled with parasites.

Baker says that cloud is the major part of the discovery, because it clogs your vein and decreases the flow of oxygen, preventing vaccines from working.

"If we know the child has a bad response to DNA then we can do something to block that bad response before the vaccine is ever administered," Baker concluded.

Chipola College is currently setting up a lab so Baker can continue her research in hopes of finding a way to block the cloud from forming.

Baker was part of a 15 person team working on the malaria vaccination research.

If you want to find out more about their findings, go to http://malariajournal.com/.

The report was published in the February edition.


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