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Zoology 101

2007

Is the Eastern Cape and ecotourism under
threat from malaria?

The contents of this essay, unless indicated to
the contrary by reference to an original source,
are my own.

Date: _____________

Signature: _____________

By: Jameel Fakee
607f3074
For numerous centuries malaria has plagued and overwhelmed the human race proving to

be a lethal and fatal disease. It was reported that enlarged spleens were noted in Egyptian

mummies which are approximately three thousand years old as a result of malaria

(Sherman 1998). It is estimated that two hundred and fifty million cases of malaria are

reported on an annual basis of which roughly two million or so are unfortunately fatal

(Abdulla & Pasvol ).

In order to make firm, rigid forecasts on whether or not the Eastern Cape in South Africa

is a potential risk area we need to attain an in depth comprehension of the parasite.

Namely factual information such as the malarial parasites ideal breeding conditions, its

form of transmission and so on.

Malaria is a deadly disease caused by blood parasites of the genus plasmodium which

belong the phylum Apicomplexa. There are specifically four species of the parasite:

1. Plasmodium falciparum

2. Plasmodium vivax

3. Plasmodium ovale

4. Plasmodium malaria

The deadly species being P. falciparum. As the species is a parasite it undoubtedly

requires a host. In this particular case the hosts involved are the human being and the

female anopheles mosquito both of which play a fundamental role in the Plasmodium life

cycle. The female anopheles mosquito acts as the vector i.e. the means of spreading or

transmitting the disease, and the human host is the “parasite reservoir.”
The life cycle of the parasite consists of three phases:

1. The Liver Phase

2. The Blood Phase

3. The Mosquito Phase

The liver phase is initiated as soon as an infected anopheles mosquito feeds on a human

host. As she does so she injects the sporozoite phase of the parasite into the human. Not

long after, the parasite arrives at the liver and invades the hepatocytes (liver cells). Five to

fifteen days later, continual asexual reproduction (schizogony) of the sporozoites gives

rise to an astonishing thirty thousand daughter cells known as merozoites.

The blood phase commences as soon as these merozoites are released from the liver into

the blood. They transport the malaria parasite to the red blood cells or erythrocytes. Each

merozoite can invade a red blood cell, enabling it to initiate a new cycle of asexual

reproduction. Asexual reproduction in the erythrocytes produces a further sixteen to

thirty-two merozoites roughly fifty hours later. These then rupture the red blood cells and

break free into the blood stream where they can affect other cells.

The mosquito stage begins when another female anopheles feeds on an infected human

host, sucking up the male and female gametes as she does so. Ingested gametocytes

undergo sexual reproduction within the stomach of the mosquito