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Am J Med Sci. 2010 Dec;340(6):492-8. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e3181e7fe6c.

Malaria, a journey in time: in search of the lost myths and forgotten stories.

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Department of Parasitology, Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Timisoara, Romania.


The saga of malaria parasites precedes the history of humans. Malaria has always been part of the rising and decline of nations, of wars and of upheavals. People of ancient times attributed the malarial manifestations to supernatural influences. Myths about demons responsible for fevers and efforts to bring them under control were often mentioned in ancient articles and attested archaeologically. More than 4 millennia were required until malaria was finally demystified. From the ancient Chinese Canon of Medicine to Ronald Ross' milestone discovery, the humanity struggled to face one of the most debilitating diseases of mankind. This essay assesses the history of malaria from ancient mysteries until it was demystified. Its sections describe the attempts of humans from different times to understand and defeat malaria through supernatural practices, religious rites and medicine, and also their efforts mirrored in art and literary masterpieces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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