Unlike National Puppy Day or National Cat Day, World Mosquito Day is not a celebration of an adorable critter that has a special place in our hearts. Instead, it’s a commemoration of a very important, Nobel Prize-winning discovery made by a British doctor. On August 20, 1897, Sir Ronald Ross proved that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we have records of malaria’s existence dating as far back as 2700 BC, when symptoms of malaria were described in ancient Chinese medical writings. However, until Ross’ discovery in the late 1800s, we could not prove the method of transmission for the disease.
This discovery was crucial in expanding our understanding of malaria, and it has helped us make great strides in fighting malaria around the world.
In honor of this historical holiday, here’s a brief timeline of malaria prevention advancements since Ross’ discovery (with information from the University of California San Francisco and the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria):
- 1930s German Hans Andersag discovers the anti-malarial drug, Chloroquine, and Swiss Paul Hermann Muller discovers the insecticide, DDT, earning him the Nobel Peace Prize.
- 1950s Malaria is eliminated in the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO) launches the Global Malaria Eradication Campaign, and the first documented case of resistance to Chloroquine is reported.
- 1970s The first malaria parasite is grown in a lab by Dr. William Trager and Dr. JB Jensen, which opens the door for drug discovery and vaccine research.
- 1980s The US FDA approves the use of the anti-malaria drug, Mefloquine hydrochloride.
- 1990s Today’s most advanced malaria vaccine candidate enters clinical trials, insecticide-treated bednets are proven to reduce childhood mortality by 20%, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership is launched with the goal of halving malaria mortality by 2010, and the WHO begins training community volunteers to provide antimalarials in remote African communities.
- 2000s In the social & political sphere, the UN sets the Millennium Development Goals with a target to halt and begin reversing malaria by 2015, the World Malaria Forum hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation convenes in Seattle, World Malaria Day is established as April 25th, and the Global Malaria Action Plan is developed. In the scientific sphere, the antimalaria drug, artesunate, is proven to save the lives of young children with severe malaria, the genome sequencing of the malaria parasite is completed, and the first-ever high-quality pediatric formulation of an Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is launched.
Today, many nonprofit organizations are continuing to fight to eradicate malaria. Since 2010, DC Mosquito Squad has been a proud partner of the Malaria No More campaign, which raises awareness and funds to provide mosquito netting and medical supplies to communities in need. Donations of any amount – even as small as $1 – can save a child’s life by providing medical treatment or a mosquito net. The Mosquito Squad franchise has donated more than $50,000 to Malaria No More’s cause. In 2014, we launched Dread’s Challenge, a three-year goal of saving 250,000 lives in Africa.