Malaria is one of the most ancient diseases known to the man kind. As eraly as 5th century BC Hypocrattes described the swamp fever and around 95 BC, Lucretius hypothesized that swamp fever might result from a living organism. In his masterpiece "Consolation of Fevers"(1184), the famous Armenian physician Mkhitar Heratsi discussed malaria, which he found being widespread in the marsh-ridden valleys of Kilikian Armenia, where both geographical and climatic conditions have provided ideal environment for malaria to spread and to thrive. Historical data of Ancient Greece, China, Arab countries and Roman Empire reveal the evidences of vicious malaria epidemic sweeping in the army and among the local populations of endemic marshy areas. It has even been suggested that malaria was the cause of the decline of the Greek and then the Roman Empires. Starting from the ancient times of Etruscan civilization, people knew about the relationship of malaria and presence of swampy areas around human settlements. Their strategy in drying up those areas was definite and somehow effective in stopping the epidemic.

The way of malaria transmission and its vectors remained unknown until the end of 19th century. In 1880 the French army surgeon Charles Laveran discovered malaria parasites in human blood. The next important observation was made in 1885 by two Italian investigators Marchiafava and Celli, who demonstrated the possibility of malaria transmission via blood transfusion. They gave the name Plasmodium to the genus of malaria parasite. Finally, in 1894 English microbiologist Patrick Manson (founder the London School of Tropical Medicine) hypothesized the role of mosquitoes in malaria transmission - a brilliant idea that was confirmed by R. Ross in 1899. As a result of these fascinating discoveries, various forms of malaria were consequently described and classified according to the type of malaria parasite

Modern medical knowledge of malaria in Armenia was not acquired until the beginning of the 20th century, when the Tropical Medical Institute was founded in Yerevan, Armenia in 1923. After decades of successful research in malaria control, the rates of the disease started to decline. Compete eradication of malaria was achieved throughout the republic in 1963, and malaria-free status was maintained till 1994.


© 2002. Malaria in Armenia.
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