How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years
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Sonia Shah, a journalist whose memories of childhood visits to India include the bed nets her relatives used to protect her from exposure to malaria, writes about malaria and the difficulties in eradicating, or even controlling, the disease. She describes the origins of the various strains of human malaria, then describes how the presence of malaria in Africa limited European efforts to colonize that continent and how the slave trade contributed to the spread of the disease. Next, she considers the ecological conditions that favor or limit the spread of the disease. The remainder of the book is devoted to her discussions of efforts to contain the disease through the use of drugs such as quinine and chloroquine, the use of pesticides such as DDT to kill the mosquito vector, and the destruction of mosquito habitat through improved drainage or the removal of dams. Shah also discusses how these efforts have been limited by antibiotic and pesticide resistance, limited access to medical care in the developing world, and cultural differences.
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