Mosquitoes: Scourge of the Earth!


Health Editor’s Note: What good are mosquitoes?  Go ahead.  Come up with some response. Fact is that they have no redeeming qualities and add nothing to the earth and those who walk, swim wiggle, etc. on it, both human and animal. If they were extinct, as so many other rather wonderful creatures are, there would be no void, and the human population would climb. Maybe you think an increased population is bad thing.  Mosquitos have been around for millions upon millions of years.  There is evidence in ancient amber, with some clearly visible inside the fossilized, golden drops of prehistoric tree sap. It seems like mosquitos have been here from the get go.

The thousands of species of mosquitoes or mosquitos (both spellings are correct) are responsible for carrying diseases that kill and maim. Mosquitos are vectors (passes on) for serious diseases. Malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, Chikungunya, West Nile virus, Zika virus, filariasis, and other arborviruses.  It has rightly claimed the title of deadliest animal family.  The female mosquito has an organ in her nose (proboscis) which she uses to puncture skin in order to suck blood from mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even some fish, as well as arthropods. The loss of blood is never the issue.  What she leaves behind, in the terms of the above diseases, and if not diseases, the itching that her saliva produces will make her victim (s) miserable.

But back to what this article is all about. Malaria is a parasite that infects a type of mosquito which uses human blood for reproduction purposes.  Malaria is mostly found outside the U.S. or in those who have traveled to countries were malaria transmission is endemic.  Many of the countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are rift with malaria causing mosquitos. Under 2,000 cases of malaria are yearly diagnosed in the U.S. If you have malaria, you will be seriously ill with chills, high fever, shaking, and generally feel like you have a horrible case of the flu. Imagine being a small child, pregnant, elderly, or already sick or ill with another disease or disorder. 

Sickle cell disease, where the red blood cells become deformed and lose some of its ability to carry oxygen on the hemoglobin, is thought to have developed as a defense mechanism against malaria.  Since malaria reproduces and resides in the red blood cells, the red blood cells of these individuals became poor places, due to the non circular shape, in which the malaria could live, enabling these individuals to avoid getting malaria and thus surviving when those around them would become ill and die. Sort of like a mutation that was for the betterment of humans, at least against developing the above mentioned diseases. See, not all mutations are bad.  Ask the giraffe if he or she enjoys eating leaves off of trees that no one else can reach?  The mutation of a longer neck and the success that the longer neck brought with it for feeding in a niche where others could not, was a good move for the giraffe.  Giraffes did not always have necks the length of which they do now.

According the the CDC, in 2016 about 445,000 humans died due to malaria, with most being young children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa even with increased efforts to control malaria. Malaria occurs in poor tropical and subtropical areas and in many of these countries malaria will be the leading cause of illness and death.

With illness and death placed aside, malaria costs governments and individuals in terms of lost days of work, absences from school, expenses of preventative measures, cost of health care, purchase of drugs to treat malaria, expenses to travel to and receive treatment from clinics, maintaining, supplying, and staffing health facilities, purchasing drugs and supplies, cost of public health interventions against malaria, lost economy due to decreased tourism, and perhaps burial expenses.

The best scenario against malaria is to prevent it or if a person has it, to stop the malaria from reproducing and making the person ill.  This article describes how that might be accomplished.  Let us hope that this works and we can stop at least this portion of devastation passed on by the not so lowly, but extremely successful mosquito. There are other diseases passed on by the mosquito to also work on. Have you come up with a reason for them to be here?…Carol

NIH researchers identify sequence leading to release of malaria parasites from red blood cells

Findings could inform the development of new antimalarial drugs.

Sequence of events in vacuole rupture

Diagram showing the sequence of events involved in rupture of the vacuole and host cell membrane leading to release of the malaria parasite. Using chemical inhibitors, the researchers showed that it’s possible to block each event in the sequence.


The vacuole, a compartment inside human red blood cells in which malaria parasites reproduce and develop, takes on a distinct spherical shape just minutes before its membrane ruptures, leading to the release of parasites into the blood stream, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. Their study appears in Cellular Microbiology.

The researchers, working with red blood cells from healthy donors, were able to chemically block the sequence of events leading to this rounding of the vacuole. They note that targeting this sequence could inform new treatment strategies against Plasmodium falciparum, the species of malaria parasite that causes the most deaths worldwide and, in several areas, has become drug-resistant.

To track the rounding sequence under a microscope, researchers dyed the membrane of the vacuole with a substance that gives off green light. About 10 minutes before the membrane ruptured, the vacuole morphed from a lumpy, uneven shape to a sphere. Previous studies have shown that malaria parasites use calcium to trigger the biochemical reactions needed for their release from the cell. When the researchers treated the cells with a compound that blocks calcium’s effect, the vacuoles couldn’t transition to the spherical form, trapping the parasites inside the cell.


Joshua Zimmerberg, M.D., Ph.D., Section on Integrative Biophysics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is available for comment.


Glushakova S. Rounding precedes rupture and breakdown of vacuolar membranes before malaria parasite egress from erythrocytes. Cellular Microbiology. 2018;e12868. (link is external)


This press release describes a basic research finding. Basic research increases our understanding of human behavior and biology, which is foundational to advancing new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. Science is an unpredictable and incremental process—each research advance builds on past discoveries, often in unexpected ways. Most clinical advances would not be possible without the knowledge of fundamental basic research.


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts and supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant and child development; maternal, child and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit NICHD’s website.


About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


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  1. Mosquitoes are an integral part of the food chain, and we are in a period of mass extinction due to human activity as it is. It would take 5 centuries to recover our forests if we started today.

  2. Carol, purpose cannot be biased. If humanity is aware, then mosquitoes ticks and fleas are not a threat. This is basic understanding for forest dwellers. The forensic science is not up to speed. They will get there.
    Blood suckers, are interestingly found wherever there are babies. We killed all the adults, what is to be expected ? Do you deny, that we are a predator demonstrating extinction level predation ?
    I expect, that to speak on this, requires the urgency to speak of humanities purpose in relation to plants. The mosquitoes stand between the two. This conversation is tired. I have witnessed groups of people of whom only one seems to be bothered by it while in the forest, what is the correlation ?

  3. Gone, are the days when people asked permission, and received it. Gone, are the days of mutual respect of species. Gone, are the days of inter-species communication. Gone, are the days of understanding and wisdom.
    Idiocy has replaced common knowledge and disrespect has replaced admiration. Truly, humanity is experiencing the dark night of the soul and eagerly sharing it with those who have no need for it. That which is common knowledge in the forest is foreign and discredited , and vanquished in the soul of humanity. It is a sad thing for all that lives upon the earth. Bothered by mosquitoes ! How about Extinction by the hand of man ?
    Are you in danger of extinction ? 7 billion ?

  4. Ahem ! I will stand as lawyer for the mosquitoes. They are protectors of the forest. They are the last defense for the undergrowth against predators who come to gnaw nibble and chew. They take samples from the predators and convey this knowledge to their offspring so as to better protect the forest. If there was no protectors and defenders of the plants that stand between the destroyers and takers, then all would be gone. If any people would understand the role of mosquitoes it would be veterans. Protection is the pathway of life in all forms. To have it is grace. It is the essence of love that protects. Humanity has been brutal to the forest, so naturally they abhor mosquitoes. They are innocent and dutiful, and indispensable. Pay no attention to the destructive mindset that wishes they didn’t exist. Of course humanity is bothered. They are the ones destroying the trees. Humanity has cut the trees to near extinction and in the beginning of America, it would surprise many to know, white pines were found 200 feet tall , commonly in NYS. It is in recorded history. The old growth forest has been decimated. I rest my case. Long live the mosquitoes and their sacrifices. If I walk the forest carefully, no mosquitoes molest me. So should you. Tread the earth lightly.

    • Take note, that they live where the young reside. The older trees fall and undergrowth comes, with shade and ample moisture. Fertile ground for the varieties and baby trees. You tread on the babies, and the protectors fly up and bite . Take note, and use the brains you so cherish and exonerate behaviors with. The intelligence is in front of you. The older trees do not require protection, so there we walk unmolested. But the undergrowth, where the babies are is where you meet your doom if you tread with ignorance. Many families live there. Why are the rabbits not the first to complain ? What do the squirrels have to say ? Careless humans are the only complaint. The careless have no concept of a thousand years.

    • ” Poland – Lying between Carroll and Ellington in the eastern tier of towns and directly east of Ellicott, from which town it was set off, April 9, 1832, Poland comprises township 2, range 10, and was originally covered with great forests of immense pines. It was this magnificent timber which first attracted settlers to Poland and the conversion of these great forests of pine, hemlock, elm, maple, beech, oak and chestnut into lumber was long the sole town industry. Many of the pines measured five and six feet in diameter and “Poland Quality” in lumber was the standard.”

  5. DJ C, Ticks and fleas serve no purpose in nature. Nor do mosquitoes. Fleas and ticks also give and spread diseases……so you are saying that mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks serve a purpose and that is to kill people…keep the human population in check? That is really all you could mean. No one turned these three into weapons….they have been weapons of human destruction for a very long time….

  6. Dear Carol,
    in 2009 I returned from my second stay in Nigeria with a nice Malaria Tropicana. The doctors in Germany faced a hard time to deal with it while I was for one week on intensive care – I even don’t remember it. I felt that symptoms of the desease did appear approx one year before it finally broke out. Is that possible?

    • Geronimode, I believe that your body can harbor malaria for years and periodically it reproduces and makes you sick all over again. You very well may have had a malaria “attack” before you were actually diagnosed with malaria. You wold have had malaria since you were bitten by the mosquito that bit you in Nigeria. The CDC sums this process up: Symptoms begin 10 days to 4 weeks after infection, although a person may feel ill as early as 7 days or as late as 1 year later. Two kinds of malaria, P. vivax and P. ovale, can occur again (relapsing malaria). In P. vivax and P. ovale infections, some parasites can remain dormant in the liver for several months up to about 4 years after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. When these parasites come out of hibernation and begin invading red blood cells (“relapse”), the person will become sick. Carol

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