Friday, September 17, 2010

Mosquito & Malaria: 3 Billion and Counting

From The National Geographic Magazine:

The mosquito has long, filament-thin legs and dappled wings; she’s of the genus Anopheles, the only insect capable of harbouring the human malaria parasite. And she’s definitely a she: Male mosquitoes have no interest in blood, while females depend on protein-rich haemoglobin to nourish their eggs. A mosquito’s proboscis appears spike-solid, but it’s actually a sheath of separate tools—cutting blades and a feeding tube powered by two tiny pumps. She drills through the epidermis, then through a thin layer of fat, then into the network of blood-filled micro capillaries. She starts to drink. To inhibit the blood from coagulating, the mosquito oils the bite area with a spray of saliva. This is when it happens. Carried in the mosquito’s salivary glands—and entering the body with the lubricating squirt—are minute, worm like creatures. These are the one-celled malaria parasites, known as plasmodia. Fifty thousand of them could swim in a pool the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Typically, a couple of dozen slip into the bloodstream. But it takes just one. A single plasmodium is enough to kill a person.  

In May 2006, I was visiting some friends in Montreal. Their youngest son was extremely bright. At the time, he was just about finishing high school. He was most interested in nature and in conservation. I noticed the book he was reading: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

By then, there was a good deal of controversy about the impact of Silent Spring. I remembered having a very interesting discussion with him on DDT and his views on conservation. We agreed that to be fair to Carson, she never advocated a total ban.

In September of 2006, WHO backed the use of DDT.

3 Billion and Counting premieres today in Manhattan. It was directed, written and produced by D. Rutledge Taylor, MD, and it explores the devastating death toll caused by malaria since the ban on DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane): 3 billion and counting indeed.

Elizabeth M. Whelan, the president of the American Council on Science and Health took up the story about the film:

"Dr. Taylor not only educates us, but he also sparks outrage about the unforeseen consequences of a scientifically ignorant chemical witchhunt, one that has caused untold human suffering and billions of deaths, primarily among children."

“Scientists have never found an effective substitute for DDT — and so the malaria death rate has kept on soaring.

“In his dissection of the rise of the environmental movement and the fall of science, Dr. Taylor not only educates us, but he also sparks outrage about the unforeseen consequences of a scientifically ignorant chemical witchhunt, one that has caused untold human suffering and billions of deaths, primarily among children. While any man-on-the-street interview will yield an overwhelming majority of negative comments about DDT — a ‘highly toxic, killer chemical’ – the reality is that DDT has saved more lives than any other man-made chemical.”


Sam said...

Just to say that my views on conservation do not include that disease causing insects/paracites/animals should be left to run wild ... those, of course, need to be dealt with approprietly for the benefit of humanity. So, man has a 'reason' for dealing with them.

But, just as an example, what are they trying to achieve by protecting the panda from extinction? Just so that we can have a cute animals to look at? But there loads of cuties about, and while one species dies out, another will'naturally' come up! This is the type of conservation that I personally don't find is a reasonable thing to do, because it lacks 'reason'.

Cockroach Catcher said...

There is really no good or bad in nature, only survival.

Mosquitoes form the base of the food chain whether we like it or not. Remember the National Geographic article on Madidi: mosguitoes tried to come through the nets to get at the photographers!!! I love that article.

I was taught years ago that Homo sapiens is the only species that is foolish enough to extinguish another species.

Parsites need to keep hosts alive!!!

So even parasites may be useful as we now know in cases of asthma.

Now Panda is a difficult territory. Think of what it as a logo for a country, then you can understand the efforts to conserve them. I know of the views of Chris Packham and of the WWF. Panda is just too symbolic.

Now they do let the natural fires burn at Yellowstone and wolves are back.

Sam said...

Only I said 'disease causing paracites' and not all paracites or mosquitos, etc.

However, your teacher was right over all. I happen to think the same too ... and any country can always change it's logo, evolve like it's people and nature does. So, that's no excuse for the tortureous isolation and interference they are imposing on pandas to breed them by force. If there time is up they go, it's nature; those no longer fit to survive die - everything has an age, universe wide.

And although I wouldn't have liked to die at 40 like those before us and so I believe that fighting disease is legitimate, artifically increasing human life will lead to chaos beyond the limits we have now and choas is already begining to happen.

If this problem with the so called ageing population is not found a solution, I wonder if not too far in the future a son will hold a gun to his father's head to rid of him! Scientists should take note and stop looking for ways to further help people live longer and longer, they even say immortality is only 20 years away. They should understand that when the time is right, death is a gift, or else.