Death by malaria is the opposite of quick and painless.
When a malarial mosquito bites you, she -- only the females feed on humans -- injects a single-celled parasite into your bloodstream. It heads for your liver to camp out, and over a period of 10 days or so continues developing. The pathogen next invades your red blood cells, where it fully matures and reproduces until those cells burst, freeing the parasite to hunt for more red blood cells and continue the cycle.
It's around this time that you fall ill. A fever one day, violent shivering and profuse sweating the next. Your pulse becomes rapid but weak. Soon there's nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, anemia.
If you're a healthy adult, maybe you can tough it out. But if you're an expectant mother with a compromised immune system, or a young child with an underdeveloped one, the infection is more likely to have its way with you.
Each year, between 350 million and 500 million cases of malaria occur world-wide. About one million people die, the vast majority pregnant women and children under five residing in sub-Sahara Africa.
Most Americans process these figures in passing. Others are moved to act.
[Excerpt of an article by Jason Rilry, The Wall Street Journal]