On World Malaria Day, the mosquito-borne disease probably seems at least a world away from you and me. After all, the U.S. eradicated the transmission of it a half-century ago. But as travel to areas where malaria is common — and that includes areas of Africa and South Asia and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Oceania — has “staged an American comeback.”
Here are six more facts to know.
1) The name derives the Italian word mal’aria, meaning “bad air.”
2) Malaria, which is found in 100 countries, is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquitoes. Even in mild cases, it can cause high fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, and severe anemia. Untreated, it can lead to death.
3) A new study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports that now about 1,500 people are hospitalized each year in the U.S. with malaria. In the past decade and a half, 182 people died from malaria In the past decade and a half, there have been 182 U.S. deaths due to malaria.
4) Billionaire businessman Bill Gates is dedicated to eliminating malaria. Among the many initiatives he’s pushed are the use of bed nets to protect people from mosquito bites at night.
5) In 2018, the World Health Organization will try out the first malaria vaccine in the field in Africa. Malaria cost more than 429,000 people their lives in 2015. Some 200 million people get sick with a malaria infection every year.
6) British athlete David Beckham is one of the founding members of the Malaria No More UK Leadership Council. His wife Victoria Beckham wore the charity’s mosquito ring to raise funds helping to save lives in Africa.