Battling Malaria: On the Front Lines Against a Global Killer

Battling Malaria: On the Front Lines Against a Global Killer

By: Connie Goldsmith
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books 
Publication Date: August 2010
ISBN: 978-0822585800
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 2010

Many young people are unaware of the impact of malaria on the lives of people around the world. Historically, the United States had its battle with it, but by 1951 it was eradicated. Many of us have read about malaria when we read Laura Ingalls recount of how her family was plagued with fever `n ague. Ma was convinced that it had been caused by watermelon and was not happy when Pa decided to sample some after their scary encounter with what is now known as malaria. This once mysterious disease has been around for thousands of years. Romans dubbed it "mala aria" or "bad air."

Over the centuries there was a considerable amount of speculation as to the origin and cause of the disease. In this book you will read about the history of malaria and the actual discovery as to what caused this very serious illness. Each year "malaria sickens between three hundred million and five million people around the world," many of whom perish from it, especially young children. In spite of major efforts to eradicate the disease, it is making a resurgence and is once again known as a "major global killer."

So what does cause this mysterious disease and what are its symptoms? In fact there are two forms of malaria, each form transmitted to a human being via an "Anopheles" (a mosquito infected by one of four different "Plasmodium" parasites). In this book you will meet the three scientists who solved the puzzle of how the disease was transmitted and what caused it. The symptoms are exhibited in three stages: The cold stage, the hot stage, and the wet stage. The afflicted person will experience chills, shivering, fever, headaches, and profuse sweating.

This startling book will take the reader through history and around the world teaching us many interesting facts about the disease that is once again rearing its ugly head. Among the many things that one will learn is that it is one of the top three "dreaded diseases" today, how it is transmitted, you'll get a detailed look at the parasite that causes it, ancient treatments, current prevention methods, a host of stunning new research approaches, how "Cinchona" bark proved to be a miracle cure, why the disease is making a comeback, how global warming is "setting the stage for malaria where it never before occurred," and why we went backward in our efforts to eradicate the disease. We will learn about such things as "imported malaria," we'll get a glimpse at success stories with school-based programs, and we'll get to learn about many, many more interesting facets of this disease. Do you have any idea what a transgenic mosquito is? Check it out on pages 97-98 of this book . . . you're going to be amazed!

This is a stunning book about malaria, a "major global killer," that is making a comeback around the world. When I first started reading this book I was wondering why anyone would want to write so much about this disease (especially one we don't have in this country), but by the time I reached the end of this amazing book I understood why. It was very well written and researched. There were photographs and numerous informative sidebars scattered throughout the book. For example, in one of the sidebars, which spanned two pages, we learn about the dishonesty of some people who actually sell fake malaria medications that are "flooding Asia and Africa" and how people can now test to determine if they are real or not. The more I read the more I understood that my "why" should have been "why not?" In the back of the book there is a timeline, a thorough index, a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book, film, organizations, and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This is a well written, thoroughly researched book that should be considered in every social studies classroom!

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