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August 20

malaria mosquito Image Credit: Adam Nadel; Photo credit: Sarah Ingraffea.

Today in Science

World Mosquito Day

World Mosquito Day, marked annually on Aug. 20, celebrates the 1897 discovery by Sir Ronald Ross of the parasite that causes malaria. The parasite, Plasmodium, is transmitted via the bite of the mosquito, which carries it. Ross' discovery would earn him the 1902 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Malaria remains a huge problem to this day. More than half a million deaths worldwide are a result of it, making it the fifth leading cause of death from infectious disease.

Particularly rampant in poor, tropical nations, malarial deaths can be prevented by a combination of effective mosquito netting, insecticides, and prompt and effective medical treatment.

In addition to malaria, mosquitos also have been known to transmit Dengue Fever, West Nile virus, a number of viruses that cause encephalitis (the swelling of the brain), Rift Valley Fever, and Yellow Fever.

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