Malaria Home > History of Malaria
On August 20, 1897, Ronald Ross, a British officer in the Indian Medical Service, was the first to demonstrate that malaria parasites could be transmitted from infected patients to mosquitoes. In further work with bird malaria, Ross showed that mosquitoes could transmit malaria parasites from bird to bird. For his discovery, Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1902.
In 1898-1899, a team of Italian investigators, led by Giovanni Batista Grassi, discovered that Anopheles mosquitoes were the specific mosquitoes responsible for malaria transmission.
The construction of the Panama Canal was made possible only after yellow fever and malaria were controlled in the area. These two diseases were a major cause of death and disease among workers in the area. In 1906, there were over 26,000 employees working on the canal. Of these, over 21,000 were hospitalized for malaria at some time during their work. By 1912, there were over 50,000 employees, and the number of hospitalized workers had decreased to approximately 5,600.
Through the leadership and efforts of William Crawford Gorgas, Joseph Augustin LePrince, and Samuel Taylor Darling, yellow fever was eliminated, and the incidence of malaria markedly reduced through an integrated program of insect and malaria control.
During the U.S. military occupation of Cuba and the construction of the Panama Canal, at the turn of the twentieth century, U.S. officials made great strides in the control of malaria and yellow fever. In 1914, Henry Rose Carter and Rudolph H. von Ezdorf, of the USPHS, requested and received funds from the U.S. Congress to control malaria in the United States. Various activities to investigate and combat malaria in the United States followed from this initial request, and reduced the number of malaria cases in the United States. The USPHS established malaria-control activities around military bases in the malarious regions of the southern United States, to allow soldiers to train year round.