Talk:History of malaria

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Good article History of malaria has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
February 27, 2009 Good article nominee Listed
June 6, 2015 Good article reassessment Kept
Current status: Good article

Article name, topic[edit]

I'm considering doing a GA review of this article, but first some general observations and suggestions. The article does a nice job of chronicling the development of a scientific understanding of malaria and the evolution of treatments, but it mostly neglects the social/cultural significance of malaria and the history of malaria from a public health perspective, which are the subjects of a huge amount of historical research. One possibility would be moving most of the article to "History of malaria research and treatment" or similar (without the early part about evidence of early malaria, which could remain in a broader "History of malaria" article that links to and summaraizes "History of malaria research and treatment").--ragesoss (talk) 00:39, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree. We should minimally discuss recent attempts to widely distribute bednets, efforts to identify a vaccine (e.g. by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation) and perhaps major professional guidelines. I don't think I would support a fork as suggested by Ragesoss. JFW | T@lk 14:53, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Treatment guidelines have been added. Distributing ITNs free or at highly subsidized rates is arguably the central most important component in the Roll Back Malaria strategy in Africa. When used properly insecticide-treated mosquito bednets are a remarkably efficient way of reducing malaria transmission, sleeping under ITN can decrease the overall child mortality by 20%: link Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 21 January 2009
Bednet distribution and vaccine research are just the timp of the iceberg in terms of the history of malaria from a public health perspective. But I don't think this article (at least, as "history of malaria" rather than something narrower) is very close to basic completeness without an overview of the non-research aspects of the history of malaria. It's one of those really huge topics where it takes a lot more effort than a typical article to reach a well-rounded and complete state. I'm not sure if there are any good overviews (as opposed to tons of histories of malaria at specific areas and times) from a social history perspective, but I'll ask around.--ragesoss (talk) 23:51, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
this review link touches briefly on social effects, but is mostly focussed on evolution. Tim Vickers (talk) 04:24, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
For economic aspects see [1]Hempelmann (talk) 08:14, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:History of malaria/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

This is a very good article on a highly encyclopedic topic. I agree with the "timeline" approach as opposed to the "topic" approach (discovery, treatment, prophylaxis) although an image or table timelining this would be ideal.

  • GENERAL: I'm unsure what the MOS says about spaces between references. Could anyone verify this?
I've removed all that I could find. Tim Vickers (talk) 17:56, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • GENERAL: Some references appear to be primary research studies (eg reference from PNAS). Would there be additional secondary references that would support their relevance?
Quite a lot of journal articles are used, but since these are reliable sources and are used with care to support uncontroversial points, I don't see a problem here. Tim Vickers (talk) 02:45, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • GENERAL: Some book references would benefit from having ISBN added.
see: Further reading Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 22 January 2009
  • INTRO: Would there be a general reference that could be used to support the entire intro? (Optional.)
  • ORIGIN: The Sallares et al (2004) study does not support the claims concerning all erythrocyte pathology mentioned earlier in the paragraph. Is there a general review on this subject, e.g. from the field of population genetics?
a useful link is:
  • EARLY RESEARCH: Is there a direct reference for Li Shizhen being the first to use Qinghaosu?
Ge Hong was the first in medical history (340 AD) to use qinghao for acute fever episodes
Reflections on the Discovery' of the Anti-malarial Qinghao, in J. Aronson (ed) Future Developments in Clinical Pharmacology. Special Issue. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 61 (6): (2006) 666-670.
The History of Qinghao in the Chinese Materia Medica. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 100 (6): (2006) 505-508
  • 19th CENTURY: You wouldn't have the original reference for the discovery by Pelletier/Caventou, would you?
yes I do, reference is added: P. J. Pelletier C.-B. Caventou Ann Chim Phys 1820, 15, 291 P. J. Pelletier C.-B. Caventou Ann Chim Phys 1820, 15, 337 Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 20.January 2009
  • 19th CENTURY: I would suggest using subscript for the numbers in chemical formulae.
  • 19th CENTURY: The paragraph starting "William Henry Perkin..." has less to do with malaria than with the general development of biochemistry and pharmacology. Perhaps this should be made a bit clearer.
Perkin accidentally started the dye industry, which was the springboard to malaria chemotherapy Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 23. January 2009

I will stop here, as meatspace calls, but I will hopefully review the remainder soon. JFW | T@lk 15:21, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Few Comments[edit]

  • The line, "Another particularly exciting application of genetic technology is the ability to produce genetically-modified mosquitoes that are unable to transmit malaria, allowing biological control of malaria transmission.", I think "exciting application" is a POV and peacock term, though subtle, can this be neutralized
Reworded, I was getting carried away! Tim Vickers (talk) 02:47, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • External links comes at the end,
  • Treatment guidelines has some formatting problems, can we use a citation template instead? And I think material from these sources should also be a part of the article.

Thats it for now! --Bluptr (talk) 18:09, 23 January 2009 (UTC)


  • 20th CENTURY: I think the discussion of the discovery of sickle cell haemoglobin is a bit of a diversion.
removed HbS studies Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 2 February 2009
  • 20th CENTURY: I'm pretty sure artemisinin combination treatments are not first line in many countries. In the UK, they are reserved for severe malaria.
Standard treatment in SE Asia, due to widespread and high-level antifolate/chloroquine resistance. Reworded to "widely used". Tim Vickers (talk) 02:51, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • 21st CENTURY: no concerns
  • TREATMENT GUIDELINES: this should either be converted to prose or moved to the "external links" section. I think the UK malaria guideline is rather good.
moved to external links Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 2 February 2009
  • EXTERNAL LINKS: the links could do with better descriptions.

That's it for now. Please let me know when editing is completed, so I can formally accord GA status. JFW | T@lk 01:16, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

  • Comment Support: I just completed a fairly thorough copyedit sweep, and by my estimation the article is now close to fulfilling the GA criteria. My only remaining issue is that the image of the Cloaca Maxima in the "Origin and early history" section seems irrelevant (see requirement 6b at WP:GACR). If that image actually is relevant, how that's so needs to be made clear in the text of that section. Other than that, the article seem well (though not brilliantly) written, accurate and verifiable, and broad in its coverage. As a minor suggestion for increased clarity, consider expanding the names of journals used in each reference -- contracted journal names are unnecessary. Wikipedia isn't a paper encyclopedia, so it doesn't have the space constraints of traditional publications. Emw2012 (talk) 00:19, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
image of Cloaca Maxima is removed Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 11 February 2009
I don't see any significant blocking issues, so the article has my support for promotion to GA. I'll leave Jfdwolff to the final decision, since he/she began this review. The bit about expanding journal titles is more applicable at FAC anyways, if at all. Great job! Emw2012 (talk) 17:37, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
Has there been any updates to this nomination? It is one of the longest-held nominations at GAN now. Gary King (talk) 16:35, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
I left a note on the Talk page of the primary reviewer about a week and a half ago, but haven't gotten a response. I'll leave another note. If there's no reply from him within two days, then I'll promote this article (barring any objections in the meantime). Emw2012 (talk) 16:45, 23 February 2009 (UTC)


Per comments above, this article is considered to meet the criteria for good articles. Congratulations! (With regard to why I, not the initial reviewer, am closing this review, it's been almost a month since that reviewer's concerns have been addressed.) Emw2012 (talk) 16:15, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

My apologies for not following up sooner. I completely agree that the article meets GA criteria, and support its passing GA. Well done! A very thorough and fascinating article. JFW | T@lk 21:22, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Surely malaria showed up in Americas before 1930?[edit]

I am questioning the following dubious paragraph:

Efforts to control the spread of malaria suffered a major setback in 1930 when it spread to the New World. Entomologist Raymond Corbett Shannon discovered disease-bearing Anopheles gambiae mosquitos growing in Brazil, likely brought there by ship. Despite later efforts to eradicate the mosquitos, malaria remains endemic in parts of South America

This is obviously false given that malaria was happening at the very least in Panama during Canal construction 1904-1914. For more info on that see Health measures during the construction of the Panama Canal. So what was it that happened in 1930? Was that just the time when this guy discovered a species of mosquitoes in Brazil? (talk) 04:22, 18 May 2009 (UTC) (This comment was moved to here from the GA review page Emw2012 (talk) 04:39, 18 May 2009 (UTC))

Made some modifications Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 07:27, 6 January 2010
Yes, it was an introduction of a new species of mosquito that was much better at spreading malaria than native species, not an introduction of malaria itself. Tim Vickers (talk) 19:04, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Warburg's Tincture[edit]

Can I suggest that this article would benefit from the addition of a mention, in the C19th treatment section, to the antimalarial drug called Warburg's Tincture. Comments please? comment added by Roland Sparkes (talkcontribs) 11:06, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

please add the information Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 5 January 2010

To@ Ernst Hempelmann. Hi, would you like me to add Warburg's Tincture to the actual article or to this discussion page first? I am not sure I know enough about the history of malaria who make the actual edit myself.--Roland Sparkes (talk) 18:06, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

In the seventeenth century, European physicians learned that the bark of a South American tree was an effective remedy for intermittent fever. There were fifty or more species of cinchona trees growing in South America. Peruvian Bark was brought to Rome in 1632 and reached England by 1655. The first prescription of cinchona powder in England is attributed to Robert Brady in 1660. Morton and Sydenham in 1666 noted its specific action in differentiating certain fevers and did much to establish its efficacy with the profession. However, the failure of many physicians to employ quinine in adequate dosage lead to a pessimistic view. In 1672, Robert Talbor popularized his treatments, a secret formulation that was essentially an infusion of cinchona powder in white wine. He was knighted in 1678, after he cured King Charles II of an ague. The use of Warburg's Tincture is not very well known, please use the discussion page first, starting : Prior to 1820, the bark was first dried, ground to a fine powder and then mixed into a liquid (commonly wine) which was then drunk. Another way of application was Warburg's Tincture a mixture of different herbs .... (?) Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 07:27, 6 January 2010
Reference is made to Warburg's Tincture in the book, 'An Illustrated History Malaria' (1999), see entry at: . --Roland Sparkes (talk) 15:16, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
I would suggest that this WP article would be incomplete without reference to Warburg's Tincture in regard to the history of treatment of this disease.--Roland Sparkes (talk) 15:18, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

I added: In 1839, Carl Warburg introduced his tincture a mixture of quinine and different herbs (reference). Please add some more information Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 10 January 2010

Hi. I've recently expanded this part of the article. See what you think...--Roland Sparkes (talk) 22:30, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

19th-century section[edit]

Would this section of the article benefit from the creation of sub sections?--Roland Sparkes (talk) 22:33, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

added some sub sections Ernst Hempelmann (talk) 11 January 2010


Reading this article, as an outsider and layman, it strikes me that, in both the C19th and C20th sections of the article, not enough is said about the use of quinine as an antimalarial, given its important and wide use in this regard?--Roland Sparkes (talk) 11:42, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

more informations are welcome, please improve the article further Hempelmann (talk) 20:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)


This article states that the "historian Herodotus (484–425 BC) wrote that the builders of the Egyptian pyramids were given large amount of garlic, to protect them against malaria." Is there a citation for this? I have not been able to find anything that suggests that Herodotus associated malaria with mosquitoes.--Tatet2 (talk) 22:25, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

Garlic has been used as medicine for many conditions, including parasites, throughout history, dating at least as far back as the time that the Giza pyramids were built. ( Herodotus, 2.125,). In test tube studies garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity; these actions are not definitely established in humans.

The History of Herodotus, parallel English/Greek, tr. G. C. Macaulay, [1890],

( Herodotus, 2.125,)

125. This pyramid was made after the manner of steps, which some call "rows" and others "bases": and when they had first made it thus, they raised the remaining stones with machines made of short pieces of timber, raising them first from the ground to the first stage of the steps, and when the stone got up to this it was placed upon another machine standing on the first stage, and so from this it was drawn to the second upon another machine; for as many as were the courses of the steps, so many machines there were also, or perhaps they transferred one and the same machine, made so as easily to be carried, to each stage successively, in order that they might take up the stones; for let it be told in both ways, according as it is reported. However that may be, the highest parts of it were finished first, and afterwards they proceeded to finish that which came next to them, and lastly they finished the parts of it near the ground and the lowest ranges. On the pyramid it is declared in Egyptian writing how much was spent on radishes and onions (Garlic) and leeks for the workmen, and if I rightly remember that which the interpreter said in reading to me this inscription, a sum of one thousand six hundred talents of silver was spent; and if this is so, how much besides is likely to have been expended upon the iron with which they worked, and upon bread and clothing for the workmen, seeing that they were building the works for the time which has been mentioned and were occupied for no small time besides, as I suppose, in the cutting and bringing of the stones and in working at the excavation under the ground?

125. [1] ἐποιήθη δὲ ὧδε αὕτη ἡ πυραμίς· ἀναβαθμῶν τρόπον, τὰς μετεξέτεροι κρόσσας οἳ δὲ βωμίδας ὀνομάζουσι, [2] τοιαύτην τὸ πρῶτον ἐπείτε ἐποίησαν αὐτήν, ἤειρον τοὺς ἐπιλοίπους λίθους μηχανῇσι ξύλων βραχέων πεποιημένῃσι, χαμᾶθεν μὲν ἐπὶ τὸν πρῶτον στοῖχον τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν ἀείροντες· [3] ὅκως δὲ ἀνίοι ὁ λίθος ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν, ἐς ἑτέρην μηχανὴν ἐτίθετο ἑστεῶσαν ἐπὶ τοῦ πρώτου στοίχου, ἀπὸ τούτου δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν δεύτερον εἵλκετο στοῖχον ἐπ᾽ ἄλλης μηχανῆς· [4] ὅσοι γὰρ δὴ στοῖχοι ἦσαν τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν, τοσαῦται καὶ μηχαναὶ ἦσαν, εἴτε καὶ τὴν αὐτὴν μηχανὴν ἐοῦσαν μίαν τε καὶ εὐβάστακτον μετεφόρεον ἐπὶ στοῖχον ἕκαστον, ὅκως τὸν λίθον ἐξέλοιεν· λελέχθω γὰρ ἡμῖν ἐπ᾽ ἀμφότερα, κατά περ λέγεται. [5] ἐξεποιήθη δ᾽ ὦν τὰ ἀνώτατα αὐτῆς πρῶτα, μετὰ δὲ τὰ ἐχόμενα τούτων ἐξεποίευν, τελευταῖα δὲ αὐτῆς τὰ ἐπίγαια καὶ τὰ κατωτάτω ἐξεποίησαν. [6] σεσήμανται δὲ διὰ γραμμάτων Αἰγυπτίων ἐν τῇ πυραμίδι ὅσα ἔς τε συρμαίην καὶ κρόμμυα καὶ σκόροδα ἀναισιμώθη τοῖσι ἐργαζομένοισι· καὶ ὡς ἐμὲ εὖ μεμνῆσθαι τὰ ὁ ἑρμηνεύς μοι ἐπιλεγόμενος τὰ γράμματα ἔφη, ἑξακόσια καὶ χίλια τάλαντα ἀργυρίου τετελέσθαι. [7] εἰ δ᾽ ἔστι οὕτω ἔχοντα ταῦτα, κόσα οἰκὸς ἄλλα δεδαπανῆσθαι ἐστὶ ἔς τε σίδηρον τῷ ἐργάζοντο καὶ σιτία καὶ ἐσθῆτα τοῖσι ἐργαζομένοισι, ὁκότε χρόνον μὲν οἰκοδόμεον τὰ ἔργα τὸν εἰρημένον, ἄλλον δέ, ὡς ἐγὼ δοκέω, ἐν τῷ τοὺς λίθους ἔταμνον καὶ ἦγον καὶ τὸ ὑπὸ γῆν ὄρυγμα ἐργάζοντο, οὐκ ὀλίγον χρόνον. Hempelmann (talk) 09:49, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

I have no doubt that the Egyptians used garlic to ward off mosquitoes; the question is whether or not they knew they were protecting themselves from malaria as well. I really appreciate the quote you provided, but it doesn't show that Herodotus (or the Egyptians) believed that mosquitoes where the source of malaria.--Tatet2 (talk) 23:46, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
The Egyptians did not have the modern biomedical concept of malaria transmission, but were using bednets, houses for the rich were build on top of hills, they were "Doing the right thing without knowing the reason". The fourth of the Plagues of Egypt was flies (עָרוֹב: Ex. 8:20–32), capable of harming people and livestock. Flies have often been used in mythology and literature to represent agents of death and decay, Beelzebub, is the name of one of the princes of hell (Hebrew: בעל זבוב "Dominus Muscarum or Lord of the Flies") Hempelmann (talk) 15:40, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

"Malaria and the Fall of Rome" article[edit]

Interesting 2011 BBC article online about an excavation near Rome c.450 AD - here. (talk) 06:41, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

moved to External links Hempelmann (talk) 07:37, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

A previous use for quinine?[edit]

I was under the distinct impression that a prior use of quinine was as an insect repellent - when used in a drink ("tonic water") supposedly it gives some kind of "odour" to human perspiration that dissuades mosquitos from biting. From this came the gradual discovery about its antimalarial properties. Old_Wombat (talk) 09:56, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Origin: Gorillas or chimps[edit]

Popular science media has a bit of back and forth:

I'm wondering whether this is not yet a settled scientific debate, and if it would be more appropriate to explain both sides in the article. Or if it has been settled in professional journals? -- Beland (talk) 19:23, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

There are two issues here: P. falciporum is only one of 6 common (and possibly as many as 4 uncommon) species of Plasmodium that cause malaria, which originate in different primates (Gorillas, chimps, bonobos, macaque monkeys). The article doesn't even name the organisms, nor define the types of malaria they cause (based on periodicity of fever). The other issue is that we probably don't need to enter into an ongoing scientific controversy in this article: we can dodge most of it, and still be informative by saying something generic like: "most strains of malaria causing Plasmodium originated in non-hominid African primates prior to the emergence of homo-sapiens, and crossed over to humans soon after their split from the ancestral apes." (reword as you like, but you get the idea). Otherwise, we've got at least 6, and possibly as many as 10 individual statements of origin to make, one for each species of Plasmodium. That kind of detail is a topic for a separate article on the zoonosis of Plasmodium species. This article already has a lot to cover.Sbalfour (talk) 18:51, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

organization and section headings[edit]

I came across a very well structured article on this topic at [2]. The section headings were by topic, though the topics were ordered in reasonable chronological order. Both the section headings and their order are exemplary:

  • Ancient History (2700 BCE-340 CE)
  • Quinine (Early 17th Century)
  • Discovery of the Malaria Parasite (1880)
  • Differentiation of Species of Malaria (1886)
  • Naming of Human Malaria Parasites (1890, 1897)
  • Discovery That Mosquitoes Transmit Malaria Parasites (1897-1898)
  • Discovery of the Transmission of the Human Malaria Parasites Plasmodium (1898-1899)
  • The Panama Canal (1905-1910)
  • The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and Malaria (1914-1942)
  • The U.S. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - The Integration of Malaria Control with Economic Development (1933)
  • Chloroquine (Resochin) (1934, 1946)
  • Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) (1939)
  • Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA) (1942-1945)
  • Elimination of Malaria in the United States (1947-1951)
  • Eradication Efforts Worldwide: Success and Failure (1955-1978)

The names and dates of the sections help me find the topic I'm interested in very quickly, and reading the article is quite pleasant. The article also has substantial depth, though the emphasis differs from our own. Detail of several of the sections is hidden by collapsible boxes, so the article can be perused topically and rapidly by not expanding the boxes. It's of course written by professors and professional medical writers. I'm impressed. I think there's something to learn, and incorporporate into the article from there.Sbalfour (talk) 19:27, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

sexual reproduction of unrelated organism causing unrelated disease in unrelated host (bird)[edit]

The text says: "In 1897 the sexual stages of a related haematozoan, Haemoproteus columbae, in the blood were discovered by William MacCallum in infected birds." (actually, it's an UNRELATED protozoan, so the statement as it stands is not quite factually accurate) So? All eucaryotes reproduce sexually, and in 1897, Plasmodium was known to be eucaryotic. What's significant about that? It doesn't cause malaria, and nowhere else in the article do we talk about birds or bird-specific malarial Plasmodium species. Right now, the statement is in a paragraph by itself, because it doesn't relate to anything else. I'm thinking about deleting it.Sbalfour (talk) 19:45, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Obsession with names[edit]

This article contains an incredible 130 person names, which constitute about 110 different persons. In some cases, as many as 6 authors of a study are individually named. In other cases, the text says something like "Joe Blow," Why not name the other authors all the time? (Take note, one of those's represents about 25 names). In most cases, no title is associated with the name, so we have to guess about the authority of the person who said or did such-and-such a thing. In some cases, the name is trivial and superfluous, like the name of a patient who received a treatment, who is otherwise not significant. In some cases, names are wikilinked, and in others, they are not. That can be fixed, of course, but that's not the point. Most of the names are researchers of one kind or another, who appear as authors of studies cited in support for the text. In a concise article like this, I think, unless the person would be generally recognized outside the malariology/parasitology/microbiology field (like Hippocrates), the proper place to leave the names is in the citations. For example, a very thorough and eminently readable article on the history of malaria appears here; there are no names at all in the article. The article is comprehensively footnoted, and anyone who wants to know who did what can follow the citation to the source, and get the authors. Names of persons who received Nobel prizes and did other significant things in this area are collected together into a separate section on another page of the website.

Here's one example of name-listing, in section 19th Century#Lifecycle: "Giovanni Maria Lancisi, John Crawford,[64] Patrick Manson,[65] Josiah C. Nott, Albert Freeman Africanus King,[66] and Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran developed theories that malaria may be caused by mosquito bites, but there was little evidence to support this idea." Since nothing came of this, it needn't be said at all. If we mention names, there are about 15 more I can add to the list, all of them in the 19th century, all publishing speculations about insects being the vector, and focusing on flies and mosquitos in particular. Instead of adding 15 names (now we'd have 21 names in the list), I'd reword without names: "In the nineteenth century, physicians and researchers began to search for scientific alternatives to the miasma theory, and focused on mosquitos, since it was already known that mosquitos spread Yellow Fever. But hard evidence had to wait until 1898." It's no longer than the article text, and explains why they were looking at mosquitos.

This characteristic kind of writing is what occurs when a multitude of people assemble a collection of individual facts into an article. Each factoid is of the form "At <some time>, <someone> did <something> at <someplace>", because each factoid is extracted from a source in isolation, and is a kind of self-contained statement. The resulting style of writing is a list of facts aggregated into paragraphs, but lacking cohesion. Often, the statements within a paragraph as well as the paragraphs of a topic, can be reshuffled in any order without effect. What's lacking is a sense of flow. And it's hard to add that after the fact, while details of names and dates hold the focus. I don't know how to fix that, but that's what this article needs.Sbalfour (talk) 03:36, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

dye precipitate relevance[edit]

In section 'Microscopic examination of stained blood films', the text says: "Jenner in 1899 introduced methanol as a solvent for the dye precipitate." First, that's closely paraphrased from a study abstract, but generic enough that it might not be considered as COPYVIO (I'm not going to call it so). My main issue is relevance: there are plenty of organic solvents for the dye in addition to water. What's precipitate got to do with the staining technique? (I'm not an organic chemist, and I'm lost). I thnk it indicates that the person writing the section found a factually true and somewhat relevant factoid, and tossed it in without supporting text to explain its relevance, because he/she didn't understand the chemistry of the staining process. There's a rather significant problem with the process that isn't elaborated, so the added factoid doesn't make sense. Adding the needed explanatory text requires specific knowledge, and might take a paragraph by itself, but it needs to be there, or the cryptic statement about precipitate deleted.Sbalfour (talk) 14:48, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

GA Reassessment[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:History of malaria/GA2. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the reassessment.

I have opened this review, because the article has numerous tags (many added by myself, to remind me what I or others need to fix). After much basic fixup, I've concluded that I cannot easily bring the article back up to GA standards. Here are the basic issues, which I have partially addressed on the talk page.


1, Well written

  • The lead is obviously not a proper summary of the text; as a start, there should be some summary (sentence or two at least) for each level 3 section
  • There are many names (like 'Pel') and concepts (like 'three types of malaria') which pop into the text with no definition
  • 'Malaria' itself is at least 6 related diseases/organisms, of four (or five) types, which are not defined. There is of course a separate article for this, but I cannot vouch for that article, and should not be required to read it to understand this one. A basic description of the disease should be given somewhere.
  • There are three pairs of sections with same or almost the same names: Lifecycle, Anti-malarial drugs, and Methylene Blue. This is confusing to a reader or scholar. I would suggest that the sections on Methylene blue be merged, and the other sections be appropriately renamed.
  • WP:PROMOTION - there are a lot of company, organization and trade names used in the text, for no essential reason.
  • There are at least 130 person names, quite a few of which would fail WP:NOTABILITY generally, or notability within the area of 'History of Malaria'.
  • There are some highly technical issues mentioned, but not described, like sexual reproduction of eucaryotes, and soluability of dye precipitates, so that the non-expert reader cannot understand the point made.
  • There is a rather closely connected sequence of cause-effect discoveries that led from methylene blue to chloroquine, but the text is choppy, as if the discoveries were isolated accidents. The composition needs to be reworked.
  • acccessibility to the general reader - there is a fair amount of technical jargon, some of it tagged inline, that could/should be relaced with vernacular English

2, Verifiable

  • The text has been sparsely tagged with [clarify], [more information required], or [citation required] in places where a scholar would not be able to determine the source for the statement. There are other places which have not ben tagged. At a minimum, each paragraph should have an inline citation at the end to support the text (additional inline citations may be needed if that one doesn't support the entire text of the paragraph, of course).

Editors may look to the inline tags as well as top of article tags, and the sections on the talk page just above the GA review, for specific details. Editors should consider removing tags as problems are fixed, as agreed upon in the GA review. If there is a concern about whether a tag is placed unnecessarily, let us discuss it here.

If other editors reach consensus that this article meets GA status as it stands, I'll be quite happy to do summary closure of the review, and let the article remain GA.Sbalfour (talk) 02:32, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

  • @Sbalfour: It has been over an year since any developments were made on this page. Are the issues raised by you addressed? Please clarify the status of the assessment. Thanks. — Yash! [talk] 08:11, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
The article is pretty thoroughly cited; the tags seem all to have been sorted out and removed. The text does not appear to me to be unduly hard to read, certainly not more than average. If anything still needs rework, it is quite minor; I can help redraft the lead if that is still necessary. Chiswick Chap (talk) 08:13, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
@Yash!: this doesn't seem to be moving at all. I suggest it now be closed. Chiswick Chap (talk) 08:37, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough Chiswick Chap. This has been open for way too long. I am closing this. Good work! — Yash! (Y) 00:12, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

21st Century section[edit]

The content of this section is current issues, and future directions (climate change) which have not yet come to pass. I question where this whole section properly belongs. It certainly has some relevant topics, but this is an article about history. At some point - the last decade, last 20 years, maybe 25? - history becomes current events. Someone who reads the Malaria article would be vitally interested in the topics of this section, and may not think to look in an article about history. There is a possibly overenthusiastic tendency toward completeness, which spawned this section in this article. I'm now inclined to move the section (or most of it) into the malaria article, since the topics here are not discussed there, and ought to be. I've placed appropriate [See Also] hatnote links to where current information (including possibly the final location of the text in this section) may be found. I invite comments, though I'm actively editing this article, and may be bold and just do it.Sbalfour (talk) 16:04, 18 March 2014 (UTC)


Resistance (of either Plasmodium to drugs, or mosquitos to insecticides) is mentioned in three different paragraphs. That's an important topic, and the references ought to be collected together into one paragraph. That topic could be its own section, maybe even its own article.Sbalfour (talk) 18:07, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

Artemisinin was isolated... (paragraph)[edit]

This paragraph is a combination of trivia and puffery. It is completely uncited. The last line is an blanket statement of questionable accuracy: artemisinin is a standard treatment as part of combination therapy for (chloroquine) resistant malaria only. The usage of artimisinin is covered in the next paragraph (properly cited). A succinct statement of artemisinin's discovery is contained in the prior paragraph (properly cited). It appears that this paragraph was inserted some time after the article achieved GA, because an uncited paragraph cannot survive GA scrutiny. I've already moved part of the text into a footnote; I'm inclined to delete the paragraph as it stands - it adds little or nothing to the article.Sbalfour (talk) 20:03, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

Methylene blue section[edit]

At the end of the section is this statement: "Methylene blue shows in vitro synergy with dihydroartemisinin but acts as a chloroquine antagonist." At this point, neither artemisinin nor chloroquine have been defined or discussed. We may surmise that they are some kind of chemicals, possibly other stains (we'd be wrong). dihydroartemisinin is not mentioned elsewhere or defined anywhere in the article. Why is it here? It is evidently some derivative of artemisinin, which is discussed later, but what's the significance of using the prefix dihydro? Does the synergy refer to a chemical reaction or biological reaction? 'In vitro' refers to a testube, so we may infer that the synergy is a chemical phenomenon, i.e. catalysis (we'd be wrong). Why is it significant that there there be synergy (or lack of it)? This statement may have some significance to the history of malaria (in what way?), but as it stands, that significance is lost. To explain the significance, given that the mechanisms of biological activity of these substances against Plasmodia have not been elaborated, would require many paragraphs, possibly a whole section, or most of a separate article. Editors who are parasitologists, malariologists or microbiologists likely skip over this statement as implicitly understandable. That understanding is not accessible to the general reader, nor can that understanding be aquired from the text of the article. It is this kind of statement, and others like it, that render this article conceptually difficult to follow. The reader has to take a break, and go to the web or other source, and try to find explanations of the relevant concepts.

The cited study is full of dense formalisms, and unenlightening. A more representative abstraction of what the study said would be: against P. falciporum, methylene blue has in vitro antagonistic effects in combination with chloroquine, additive effects in combination with monodesethylamodiaquine, noticeable synergistic effects in combination with mefloquine and quinine, and high synergistic effects in combination with dihydroartemisinin and atorvastatin.

It doesn't tell us what those effects really mean in terms of treatment of malaria. We wonder why the editor who abstracted the extant statement, passed over monodesethylamodiaquine, mefloquine and atorvastatin, but selected dihydroartemisinin (which the article does not discuss) instead of quinine (which the article does discuss). The text MAY imply that methylene blue in combination with chloroquine would be an inadvisable or ineffective therapy (NOT true - combination CQ/MB therapy is a low cost and effective alternative treatment for malaria in Africa today).

I am left wondering exactly what the statement in the text is meant to convey. It ought to be elaborated (a substantial and probably superfluous effort - this article is not about malaria drugs or treatment) or deleted.Sbalfour (talk) 17:05, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

article organization: timeline vs topic[edit]

During the previous GA review, ostensibly a timeline organization of the article rather than a by-topic organization was chosen. However, the resulting article is a composite: 'Origin and history is timeline oriented, but Early research and treatment (starting again in prehistoric times) is topic oriented - presumably, epidemiology was covered in the previous section, and treatment in this section. That's more than a little confusing. I propose a more homogeneous organization, with timelines (sections) as follows:

  • Prehistory (thru 500 BCE or so, rise of the Roman Empire)
  • Classical period (Greek, Egyptian, and Roman societies thru ~450 CE, fall of the Roman empire)
  • middle ages and early Renaissance (up to mid-17th century availability of cinchona bark treatment in Europe)
  • late Renaissance (second half of 17th + 18th centuries)
  • 19th century
  • 20th century

(existing Current issues section moves to Malaria article)

The existing article has little to say about the fanciful and often horrifying treatments for diseases including malaria in the middle ages, such as trepanning, ice-baths, blood-letting, exorcism, administration of poisonous herbs either internally or externally, mesmerism, etc. This would expand into the 6th major section of the article.Sbalfour (talk) 19:07, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Peruvian bark = Cinchona succirubra?[edit]

The citation has a picture with the caption Cinchona succirubra, but specifies that it was obtained from an expedition in 1777. The article text refers to indians near Loxa using Peruvian bark in the early 16th century, at least 150 years prior to that. Linnaeus in 1742 identified the tree as Cinchona officinalis. In fact, we do not know which species was used in the 16th century, and it was likely several. The text can't stand as it is.Sbalfour (talk) 14:16, 21 March 2014 (UTC)


Copyediting per tags. Feedback encouraged!

Here is the list of issues from the tags on the article, which I'm moving here. No need for the article text to carry all that weight. I will work these issues as I proceed.

Thanks! I'll leave the tag for now, since head is usually last section to stabilize.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

[cleanup tag: trade and organizational names] removed.

Disagree. The mentions are not promotional.
Ok, I've removed the tag, so we can move on.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

[cleanup tag: non-notable names, names without annotation] removed - won't hold up GA, and significant improvement has been made

Without specifics, not easy to satisfy. Many of the last names are contextualized in the ref or earlier in the text. Please identify/remove any irrelevants.
Acknowledged. I'll work on these, so leaving the tag in place for now.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

[Confusing: identicallly named sections] tag removed.

Thanks, tag removed.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

[missing info: types of malaria and lifestages] tag removed.

Thanks, tag removed.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Please add as needed.
Some general text added. I'll keep working on this, since I started. The problem is, in the middle ages, the same treatments were used for everything - bloodlettting, for example. I'm having trouble finding refererences for malaria-specific treatments.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

[missing information: scientific theories that supplanted swamp fumes as cause of malaria] tag removed

Don't see it.
Actually, it's just some bridging text needed (I've added it), because SOMETHING caused them to abandon the swamp fumes theory. Tag removed.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Comments: Don't understand why this "In 1717, the black pigmentation of a postmortem spleen and brain was published by Giovanni Maria Lancisi[who?]" has a who tag.

It should be a clarify tag, or something. Who was Giovanni Maria Lancisi, that I should believe what he says? In article text, we need to identify the relationship of the person to the topic of the article. Specifically, persons who speak with authority should be identified by title and other identifying remarks, so we understand why his name should be there. For example, French Physician Dr. Who, known for his research on viral genomics, published a new discovery in 1854, etc.Sbalfour (talk) 00:19, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Not necessary to establish each person's provenance in the text, as long as associated refs do so. Otherwise, you get ego trips.
In a paper for professional publication, if a person has a title, the title must appear adjacent to most occurrences of the name. In most cases, that would be "Dr.", but sometimes other titles like "Sir" (knight of the realm) are applicable. If the person is a distinguished person, such as "Chair of Mathematics", his position should be stated in the first usage of the name in the paper. Also, it is usually not acceptable to simply use a person's last name in the text, though names like "Dr. Martin", provided that Martin's first name has already been given, are acceptable. If the names are part of a parenthetical citation, such as (Foreman and Tubbs, 1879), last names only are acceptable. If a title does not accompany a last name, the first name (and initial in cases of common names) should precede the name.Sbalfour (talk) 00:49, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

The text is littered with clarify and other strange tags next to the names of individuals. I removed them. The issue should be disussed on this page.

The article is littered with names of persons of little note. For persons of note (I think), I've tagged the name so that I can go back and try to identify that name for the reader. For un-notable persons, the text should be rewritten without the name. In many cases, the name(s) in the text are the names of the authors of the study, in the citation that supports the text. Anyone who wants to know the names (research scholar), can get them from the citation. I think in those cases, the name(s) need not be in the text (clutter).Sbalfour (talk) 00:19, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Please remove unnotables, after discussion on this page. The article text is not the place for you to leave notes to yourself. If necessary, use embedded comments (<!-- your comment here -->) I have no problem with removing names of study authors.

The article relies heavily on primary sources, which we don't want. Instead, we need to find review articles that cover the points. I found refs for some of the cn's, but they were primaries, too.

I found no relevant reviews, only primary sources Hempelmann (talk) 19:17, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

That's it for me. Good luck and thanks for the feedback. Cheers! [somebody's signature got messed up - please add it back]

20th Century#Anti-malarial drugs section[edit]

This statement appears: "In the mid-20th century, Ann Bishop and her malaria chemotherapy research group at Cambridge University pioneered studies of drug resistance in Plasmodium and effective chemotherapies." Neither the name of the person nor institution are notable. Are we expected to know where Cambridge U. is? I'd guess in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I don't know, actually. If the place matters, we need to make it clear where it is. The whole statement is superfluous, because what we really want to know is, what did she accomplish or discover? The rest of the paragraph doesn't follow up on this. Furthermore, the cited ref is a primary source, and a personal remeniscence, not a medical study; it probably isn't an acceptable citation for those reasons. Rather than that, I'd propose deleting the whole statement, since it contributes nothing factual to the article. I don't have access to the source, and don't know what if anything relevant was attempted to be said here.Sbalfour (talk) 16:11, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

This section is a compendium of three rather distinct topics, two of which are encompassed by the section heading, and one of which probably belongs in its own section: 1) chloroquine and other synthetic derivatives and analogues of quinine; 2)laboratory techniques (culture in animals, human cell lines); and 3) artemisinins. The laboratory stuff probably belongs with the miniscule 'Cell culture' and 'Rapid Diagnostic' sections, and together with them, would make a nice and properly sized 'Laboratory techniques' section.Sbalfour (talk) 17:19, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

Done.Sbalfour (talk) 22:13, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

The following statement appears: "the drug target of chloroquine is host-derived, which markedly delayed the emergence of resistance". Despite the rather vernacular English, this is technical jargon. It doesn't state the 'drug target' of chloroquine, which may be of interest, nor what 'host-derived' implies. And the obvious question isn't answered: why does a host-derived drug target delay the onset of resistance? A couple of paragraphs to explain those concepts is necessary, if the statement is to stay in the article; otherwise it needs to be deleted as meaningless.Sbalfour (talk) 22:13, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

removed Hempelmann (talk) 13:13, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

section 20th century#Antimalarial drugs, Nazi experiments?[edit]

This description, including execution and imprisonment of two non-notable persons, seems like a "floating fact", not related to anything else before or after in the article. Nothing of significance was discovered or done there relevant to history of malaria, and Nazi medical experimentation is well covered in several other articles. I'd propose that the text be moved to a relevant article, or deleted. The Germans did do some interesting research on synthetic quinine analoques, prior to discovery of chloroquine, which info is not in the article. That's what we should elaborate on.Sbalfour (talk) 19:30, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

removed Hempelmann (talk) 09:37, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Section DDT and other insecticides[edit]

This statement appears: "these [total eradication] projects encountered a spate of difficulties[more information needed] that foreshadowed the general retreat from malaria eradication efforts across tropical Africa..." It's highly reelvant to understanding why we can't eliminate malaria (like we did smallpox), to know what happened in Africa, and why some other approach (than wholescale eradication) is the appropriate strategy. The nature of those difficulties needs to be fully elaborated.Sbalfour (talk) 20:10, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

European renaissance[edit]

We've devoted three paragraphs to saying that Italians of the middle ages through early renaissance still subscribed to the Roman mal'aria or 'swamp fumes' theory as described by Leonardo Bruni in his History of the Florentines. (Actually, I just wrote the very sentence we need). The existing text seems like over-elaboration. An additional problem is that Leonardo's original text is in medieval Italian, which would be difficult for modern Italians to read without translation. A previous version of the article had a latin translation of the medieval Italian (doesn't help in English wikipedia). Thoughts?Sbalfour (talk) 18:31, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

citations needed[edit]

As of March 24 afternoon, I count 7 paragraphs without terminating citations, when the last statement or phrase of the paragraph is not general knowledge, and 11 [citation needed] tags. The article won't retain GA if any significant number remain at close of reassessment. We're also swamped with primary sources (80+%), which will be an issue for FA; I'm not going tp press it here. I think we're reaching closure on the content and composition issues, so let's focus on wrapping it up.Sbalfour (talk) 21:38, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

added references Hempelmann (talk) 12:16, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Wow. Thanks!Sbalfour (talk) 18:04, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

undiscussed drugs named in lead?[edit]

The lead 4th paragraph contains this phrase: "mefloquine, doxycycline and the combination of atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride...", as well as mentioning (lack of) a vaccine. These items aren't discussed in the text, and the lead is supposed to be a summary of the text, not new information. I'm dubious whether we want to get into distinguishing or describing the various other (besides quinine, methylene blue, chloroquine, artimesinins) malarial drugs and combination therapies - there's just too many, and for our purposes, we could summarize them as synthetic derivatives of quinine or combination therapies of a quinine derivative and a non-quinine partner drug. The whole area of malario-chemotherapy is rather involved and rather new, and more appropriate for another article, like Malaria, Malaria prophylaxis or Antimalarial medication. Is it alright to move or summarize this paragraph? We should mention something about vaccine efforts or challenges in the Current issues section, if we want to retain the summary statement in the lead. I'm considering whether that whole 'Current issues' section rightfully beongs in the Malaria article, because the issues discussed there aren't mentioned in that article. Need a consensus on what to do.Sbalfour (talk) 18:03, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

please move 'Current issues' section to Malaria article Hempelmann (talk) 19:13, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

"The most critical factors in the spread or eradication of disease have been human behavior"[edit]

The following sentence occurs in the lead:

"The most critical factors in the spread or eradication of disease have been human behavior (shifting population centers, changing farming methods and the like) and living standards."

I'm having a difficult time finding support for this statement in either of the two sources cited in the paragraph in which it appears. The Lancet article, in particular, refers to "internationally funded control efforts" as responsible for the dramatic post-2004 decrease in malaria mortality, and to anti-malarial drug resistance as the key cause of its rise in the decade prior to that. Other sources, many of which can be found in the DDT article, refer to the very substantial impact of vector control efforts on malaria incidence in the post-WW2 period and the resurgence of malaria that occurred when funding for these efforts declined.

Here is what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says:

"In the past dozen years, malaria funding has increased nearly 10-fold and major gains have been made in controlling the disease in developing nations. The number of new cases has declined by 25 percent globally, and deaths from malaria have fallen by 42 percent. These gains have been made through a combination of interventions, including timely diagnosis and treatment using reliable diagnostic tests and effective drugs; indoor spraying with safe, long-lasting insecticides; and the use of bed nets treated with long-lasting insecticide to protect people from mosquito bites at night."


half of all humans who have ever lived[edit]

Although the article has 6 sources which include the statement that malaria killed half of all humans who have ever lived, and one or two of them (no more than that) would be normally reliable for such statements, it is notable that none them are actual studies of the question. Where are the serious studies of historical malaria that come up with this figure? As far as I can tell, there are no such studies, but I'd be perfectly happy to be proved wrong. As an example of a "serious study of historical malaria" consider this 2002 peer-reviewed study, which considers historical morbidity head-on with over 200 citations to other peer-reviewed research. The closest relevant statement is this:

At some time during the 19th century, malaria reached its global limits. In absolute numbers and in the proportion of the humanity now affected, malaria was exacting its highest ever toll of sickness and death. Well over one-half of the world’s population was at significant risk from malaria. Of those directly affected by malaria at least 1 in 10 could expect to die from it. The prosperity and well-being of all who lived within its reach were reduced greatly and usually catastrophically. (p582)

So that paper (a far stronger source than any of the 6 in the article) supports a worst case of much less than half the population dying of malaria. However it also suggests how this story might have gotten started: the transition from "half the population suffered from malaria" to "half the population died of malaria" is exactly the sort of error that journalists make all the time. Zerotalk 01:56, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

And you can see that I made a similar error, misreading "at risk from malaria" as "suffering from malaria". Zerotalk 01:58, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Here is another relevant peer-reviewed study that also, as far as I can see, comes nowhere near supporting the claim. Zerotalk 02:07, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
removed references Hempelmann (talk) 09:53, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

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