Killing Malaria without using DDT

Climate campaigners often worry that Malaria will spread due to increased temperature. So far, there’s little evidence of the effect of temperature, citing other factors. Plus there appears to be no linkage at all to temperature, but this new study suggests that even if it does, we might have a new tool that is far more effective at treatment.


anopheles mosquito, carrier of malaria Source: CDC

Study identifies new way to kill the malaria parasite

Discovery could pave the way to new treatments for the disease

from the University of Leicester:

Scientists have discovered new ways in which the malaria parasite survives in the blood stream of its victims, a discovery that could pave the way to new treatments for the disease.

The researchers at the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Toxicology Unit based at the University of Leicester and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine identified a key protein, called a protein kinase, that if targeted stops the disease. The study is published today (Tuesday) in Nature Communications.

Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives inside an infected mosquito and is transferred into the human through a bite. Once inside the body, parasites use a complex process to enter red blood cells and survive within them. By identifying one of the key proteins needed for the parasite to survive in the red blood cells, the team have prevented the protein from working, thus killing the parasite. The discovery could be the first step in developing a new drug to treat malaria.

The scientists – funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust – used state-of-the-art methods to dissect the biochemical pathways involved in keeping the malaria parasite alive. This included an approach called chemical genetics where synthetic chemicals are used in combination with introducing genetic changes to the DNA of the parasite.

The researchers found that one protein kinase, (PfPKG) plays a central role in various pathways that allow the parasite to survive in the blood. Understanding the pathways the parasite uses means that future drugs could be precisely designed to kill the parasite but with limited toxicity, making them safe enough to be used by children and pregnant women.

Co-lead author of the study Professor Andrew Tobin from the MRC Toxicology Unit which is located at the University of Leicester, said: “This is a real breakthrough in our understanding of how malaria survives in the blood stream and invades red blood cells. We’ve revealed a process that allows this to happen and if it can be targeted by drugs we could see something that stops malaria in its tracks without causing toxic side-effects.”

Professor David Baker, co-lead author from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “It is a great advantage in drug discovery research if you know the identity of the molecular target of a particular drug and the consequences of blocking its function. It helps in designing the most effective combination treatments and also helps to avoid drug resistance which is a major problem in the control of malaria worldwide.”

According to the World Health Organization malaria currently infects more than 200 million people world wide and accounts for more than 500,000 deaths per year. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute of malaria and the disease accounts for approximately 20% of all childhood deaths.

Professor Patrick Maxwell, chair of the MRC’s Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board, said: “Tackling malaria is a global challenge, with the parasite continually working to find ways to survive our drug treatments. By combining a number of techniques to piece together how the malaria parasite survives, this study opens the door on potential new treatments that could find and exploit the disease’s weak spots but with limited side-effects for patients.”



104 thoughts on “Killing Malaria without using DDT

  1. Oliver Cromwell was suffering from malaria when he died in 1658, so it’s not exactly a new phenomenon .

    • Washington, Jackson, and Lincoln also appear to have had it here in the states. John Q. Adams also was probably a victim.

  2. Paint the walls with DDT.
    The danger to humans and wildlife is minimal.
    The stuff persists on interior walls for months.
    No need for fogging. No need for outside spraying.
    Forget Rachel Carlson. She made up her data, and sold a lot of lying books.
    Meanwhile malaria has killed its millions. Thanks, Rachel.
    My dad used DDT on the interior walls of our home for years. We suffered no ill effects from this.
    And a dead mosquito has no power to kill anyone.
    But no one is listening, since I am not a Nobel scientist.

    • A single DDT application cost a few cents and last 6 months. Nothing is even close in cost effectiveness.
      In contrast, the replacements for DDT were toxic to humans, but had the advantages of being proprietary, expensive and required frequent re-application. As a side effect the replacements were much more toxic.

      • The problem with DDT is, like every other control mechanism, is losing its effectiveness. That was true even at the time it was banned. The first DDT resistant mosquito populations were reported in India in 1959. I first read about it in the book “The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 years.” Its a fascinating book on how history turned on the presence or absence of Malaria and control over quinine. Lots of references on Google to DDT resistance.

      • Donald Freeman. As I recall, GW’s program to reduce malaria reduced the infection rate in Tanzania by some 90%. Seems bed nets and DDT worked there. By the 1970s DDT had eliminated malaria in the first world, like the Netherlands. Then the first world prevented the third world from using DDT. That was 40 years ago that DDT was used in any amount. By the way, about using Google for a source. Google “climate change” and you will find the first ten pages have results for only climate catastrophe items. The most visited science/weather/global warming site on the web is WUW and I can’t find WUWT in the first ten pages. I suspect that you can trust nothing Google has a business interest in. Like global warning. You might look up GW’s malaria/aids project in Africa and wonder why nobody knows about it

    • Good points mathman2. In addition, DDT has an amazing ability that no other treatment can match.
      It is an amazing repellent. IIRC, studies were done using your recommended treatment on the inside walls of huts and homes.
      IIRC, the results were in the ballpark of 90% of the mosquitos didn’t enter at all. Of those that did enter, some 90% were repelled and left without biting. Of those that remained, it’s common for them to land on the walls. The safe, effective DDT would then act against them. It’s an amazingly effective and safe treatment for this terrible malaria problem.
      The net result was that the malaria rates plummeted in areas adopting this safe and effective DDT procedure.
      Meanwhile, the “feel good” approach of using chemically-treated nets for night sleeping are much less effective. [Non-DDT chemicals are used on the nets.] Pregnant women and children often get up in the night and leave the netted bed areas, making them vulnerable to malaria attacks. It’s not that the treated nets are a bad idea. It’s just that more lives are harmed and more lives are lost, primarily due to politically correct ignorance and generations of false demonization of DDT forced upon students.
      The World Health Organization was persuaded to re-evaluate the science, some thirty years after the US went against the known science and banned DDT. Many Billions of cases of malaria later, primarily against Third World Pregnant Women and children of color, the WHO reversed it’s position. The World Health Organization issued their results, with the recommendation to use DDT to spray the walls of homes and huts, as you mentioned mathman2.
      Rachael Carson and her book, “Silent Spring” contributed to the deaths of perhaps 100 million people in the Third World, by dishonestly mischaracterizing the science. It’s a sad legacy she carries, being linked to as many deaths as perhaps any person in world history.

      • Nets do not stop the biting. I have been bitten through the net when I leaned against it in my sleep.
        Carson should be demonised for that bloody book.

      • It has been repeated many times but I’ll say it again:
        DDT is not banned other than for agricultural use. It is still available. It is still used for vector control. It is now less efficient because of resistance. It is not “safe”.

        Food supplies: USDA found DDT breakdown products in 60% of heavy cream samples, 42% of kale greens, 28% of carrots and lower percentages of many other foods.
        Body burden: DDT breakdown products were found in the blood of 99% of the people tested by CDC.
        Health impacts:
        Girls exposed to DDT before puberty are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer in middle age, according to the President’s Cancer Panel.

      • Merely finding DDT breakdown products in food doesn’t say much. What were the levels? Parts per million, billion, trillion, … ?

      • sergeiMK
        July 8, 2015 at 4:50 am
        “Girls exposed to DDT before puberty are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer in middle age, according to the President’s Cancer Panel.”
        Worth repeating, in bold.

      • To SergeiMK and Steve P…

        Girls exposed to DDT before puberty are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer in middle age, according to the President’s Cancer Panel.

        Let’s see the science on that claim. If it’s coming from any organization associated with our current US President, there is VERY likely a political angle and not real science. How about you back that one up in some way other than the empty claim you’ve expressed.
        So apparently we should let the girls die as infants who contract malaria (very high probability in many third world locales) because you don’t want them exposed to DDT so that they have an increased chance of breast cancer in mid-life (low probability)? Try thinking that through again. You want them to die young of a horrible disease so they won’t have a low probability chance of dying at middle age of a horrible disease? Are you kidding me?
        Typical logic of the liberal mind. Unbelieveable. The agenda of the left becomes more clear by the day.

        Worth repeating, in bold.

        Small minds think alike?

      • What a crock of poo. Just about everything you write is lies, distortion and falsehood. DDT has never been banned for vector control. NEVER. DDT is supposed to KILL mosquitoes not repel them. It doesn’t kill them; instead it merely irritates them so they fly around more because today’s insect populations.have developed metabolic pathways to detoxify DDT.
        Malaria has not been wiped out because humans are flawed. They steal the insecticides, make war, divert the public health money, drive out the educators, fail to drain the swamps and instead create more and so on and on. DDT has none of the advantages & effectiveness of say window screens, effective public health departments, removing standing water, controlling Malaria infection in those affected, and the host of other activities that a functioning educated and lawful society can provide.
        Malaria is like any other pestilence that prospers where the Four Horsemen hold sway. DDT has nothing to do with it. ZIP. And Rachel Carson was just like any other reporter of their time, all having their own bias and warts. However, she was largely correct about the pernicious effects of mass indiscriminant broadcasting of pesticides into the environment. If you had actually read Silent Spring, you might have actually learned something other than Bates propaganda.

      • Boulder Skeptic
        July 8, 2015 at 9:55 pm
        1) The story has been reported in several outlets, eg:
        which point here:
        The President’s Cancer Panel is part of the Division of Extramural Activities of the National Cancer Institute. I don’t know what that means, nor can I find the referenced story on their website, but the archives go back to 1996
        2) All the rest of your post is a strawman argument (“You want them to die young of a horrible disease”), with which you conclude:
        “Typical logic of the liberal mind. Unbelieveable. The agenda of the left becomes more clear by the day.”

        Illogical, with false accusations. Surely you can do better with a handle like “Boulder Skeptic?”

      • This is quick and dirty, but really easy to recreate…
        Malaria Rates in Africa can be found here (amongst many places)…
        In Africa in 1980, there were reportedly a little under 400K deaths per year of children under 5. As DDT was continuing to be phased out under pressure of the West, death rates of African children soared to approximately 1.1M per year by 2005. Now that WHO has started advocating use of DDT in Africa, African child death rates from malaria have reduced to around 700K and are dropping fast.
        Looking at data, it’s pretty easy to build simple model–without DDT, African children die at a rate more than double that with DDT.
        Now let’s look at Breast Cancer incidence rates in Africa:

        Incidence rates vary greatly worldwide from 19.3 per 100,000 women in Eastern Africa to 89.7 per 100,000 women in Western Europe. In most of the developing regions the incidence rates are below 40 per 100,000 (GLOBOCAN 2008). The lowest incidence rates are found in most African countries but here breast cancer incidence rates are also increasing.

        From the following April 2004 NY Times Magazine article by Tina Rosenberg…

        As malaria surges once again in Africa, victories are few. But South Africa is beating the disease with a simple remedy: spraying the inside walls of houses in affected regions once a year. Several insecticides can be used, but South Africa has chosen the most effective one. It lasts twice as long as the alternatives. It repels mosquitoes in addition to killing them, which delays the onset of pesticide-resistance. It costs a quarter as much as the next cheapest insecticide. It is DDT.

        Independent malariologists believe it kills two million people a year, mainly children under 5 and 90 percent of them in Africa. Until it was overtaken by AIDS in 1999, it was Africa’s leading killer. One in 20 African children dies of malaria, and many of those who survive are brain-damaged. Each year, 300 to 500 million people worldwide get malaria. During the rainy season in some parts of Africa, entire villages of people lie in bed, shivering with fever, too weak to stand or eat.

        No one concerned about the environmental damage of DDT set out to kill African children. But various factors, chiefly the persistence of DDT’s toxic image in the West and the disproportionate weight that American decisions carry worldwide, have conspired to make it essentially unavailable to most malarial nations. With the exception of South Africa and a few others, African countries depend heavily on donors to pay for malaria control. But at the moment, there is only one country in the world getting donor money to finance the use of DDT: Eritrea, which gets money for its program from the World Bank with the understanding that it will look for alternatives. Major donors, including the United States Agency for International Development, or Usaid, have not financed any use of DDT, and global health institutions like W.H.O. and its malaria program, Roll Back Malaria, actively discourage countries from using it.

        The move away from DDT in the 60’s and 70’s led to a resurgence of malaria in various countries — Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Swaziland, South Africa and Belize, to cite a few; those countries that then returned to DDT saw their epidemics controlled. In Mexico in the 1980’s, malaria cases rose and fell with the quantity of DDT sprayed. Donald Roberts, a professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., has argued that when Latin America stopped using DDT in the 1980’s, malaria immediately rose, leading to more than a million extra cases a year. The one country that continued to beat malaria was Ecuador, the one country that kept using DDT.

        What about DDT’s impact on the people inside the houses? The most serious evidence of DDT’s harm to humans are a few studies showing that higher levels of DDE (the form DDT takes when it metabolizes) in a mother’s blood is associated with premature birth and shorter duration of breast-feeding. But other studies have found no such associations. There was suspicion that DDT causes breast cancer, but study after study has found no connection. In general, DDT is feared for its effect on the environment, not on humans. It has been used on such a huge scale over the last 50 years that it is reasonable to think that if it had any serious effect on human health, we would know it by now.

        from the following link WHO gets smart and advocates DDT use again…

        Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, better known as DDT, is one of the chemicals used for Internal Residual Spraying. In the 1960s, DDT use was outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. While the chemical remained legal for malaria control, it became nearly impossible to procure. However, in 2000, the World Heath Organization approved DDT as one of 12 insecticides safe for use in indoor residual spraying and in 2006, the organization began actively supporting DDT for use in malaria control.

        So Steve P,
        You need to do more research. The link second above is not the only one indicating that studies have actually shown NO CONNECTION between DDT exposure and breast cancer. So I stand by my first point. This is BOGUS red herring.
        When you wanted to reiterate the statement about DDT causing breast cancer, that seemed to me to be advocacy for not allowing children to be exposed to DDT. Is that a bad assumption? If so, why were you wanting so badly to restate the bogus connection between DDT and breast cancer. I think it’s completely logical on my part to assume you don’t want DDT used because you believe it is dangerous. You might want to clarify if this was not your intent.
        There is clear evidence in many places on the internet that when you stop using DDT in a malarial country, rates of malaria deaths shyrocket.
        So back to the “strawman” as you called it…
        In Africa, I can easily show from data that the rate of malaria deaths of children under 5 is about 1 in 20 without DDT and lower than 1 in 50 with DDT. I can also show from data that the incidence of breast cancer in Africa is around 1 in 5200 (incidence, not deaths). Or, IF WE ACCEPT your bogus claim of 5x increase due to DDT exposure, we get a breast cancer incidence of 1 in 1000 (which by the way I don’t accept).
        So, it seems to me that you are advocating not using DDT for fear of increasing incidence of breast cancer. So that means 1 in 20 children die without DDT so we can keep 1 in 1000 from getting breast cancer (even accounting for the bogus link you’ve stated).
        Your solution kills. Not a strawman dude…
        You still want to advocate for non-use of DDT?
        To everyone else,
        I’ll try to refrain from showing my disdain for the bullsh!T that flows from leftists so openly in the future.

      • To SergeiMK and Steve P,

        In a 1994 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers concluded that their data did not support an association between DDT and breast cancer.45 The researchers did note that breast cancer rates are higher than the national average in many places in the northeastern United States; but the data also indicated that the higher levels could be accounted for by nonenvironmental factors among women living in these regions—factors such as higher socioeconomic status and deferral or avoidance of pregnancy, both of which increase the risks of breast cancer by up to twofold.45,46

        45. Krieger N, Wolff MS, Haitt RA, et al. Breast cancer and serum organochlorines: a prospective study among white, black, and Asian women. JNCI. April 20, 1994.
        46. Sturgeon SR, Schairer C, Gail M, McAdams M, Brinton LA, Hoover RN. Geographic variation in mortality from breast cancer among white women in the United States. JNCI. December 20, 1995.

        In October 1997 the New England Journal of Medicine published a large, well-designed study that found no evidence that exposure to DDT and DDE increases the risk of breast cancer.47 In the accompanying editorial Dr. Steven Safe, a toxicologist at Texas A&M University, stated, “weakly estrogenic organochlorine compounds such as PCBs, DDT, and DDE are not a cause of breast cancer.”48 Dr. Sheila Zahm, deputy chief of the occupational epidemiology branch at the National Cancer Institute, agrees that the body of evidence that DDT can cause breast cancer “is not very compelling.”49

        47. Hunter DJ, Hankinson SE, Laden F, Colditz G, Manson JE, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Wolff MS. Plasma organochlorines levels and the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 1997; 337:1253–1258.
        48.Safe S. Xenoestrogens and breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 1997; 337:1303–1304.
        49. Kolata G. Study discounts DDT role in breast cancer. The New York Times. October 10, 1997:A26

    • You are so right Mathman2. It is far better to stop the infection rather than fight it once in place.

    • Unless it is a really juicy one and you somehow happen to slip on it and bang your head too hard in the resulting fall. Of course.

    • DDT impregnated Paint? That sounds smart.
      I live in a mosquito prevalent area, all due to zero controls over casual and other uncovered water sources. For mine i burn Pyrethrum impregnated coils at night; Cheap and Effective, i prefer the slight odour to Malaria, Dengue, Ross river fever and all the other diseases these useless parasites carry. BTW I am never bitten indoors with a burning coil under my desk and bed – it has worked for decades.

      • The new plague will most likely be a flu variety. Ebola is ugly and horrific in its effects, but not nearly the threat flu similar to that of 1918 would be.

    • I’ve seen already some attempts to link several cases of rodent-caused plague, carried by dog fleas to humans in Colorado and Four Corners area, to “climate change.”

      • Hanta virus is linked to weather through the yields of grass seeds and similar foods that rodents live on. In a very narrow sense, it is “climate change” linked.

    • Bubonic plague is still with us.
      Bubonic plague was reportedly endemic in the town near our oilfields in the Central Asian Desert in Kazakstan. We kept a fresh supply of suitable antibiotics at our camp and periodically donated them to the local hospital, when the antibiotics were a few months before their expiry dates.
      We never had a reported case of plague on my watch.

      • WHAT?!?
        People in Big Oil actually doing something to save lives!…for FREE!
        (I believe the Aussies have a phrase, “Good on ya!”)

  3. I graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1971. A Professor in one of my classes opined that research would lead to the synthesis of mosquito “juvenalizing” hormones that would stop or slow their development without effecting other critters.
    Our society seems to have worked toward other goals. It may really be we can mitigate lots of problems safely but we need to apply our efforts to the right ideas.

  4. Malaria was quite common in some swampy regions of the German Upper Rhine valley during the Little Ice Age. Thus there is no convincing connection between the mean temperature of climate and Malaria. It has likely more to do with general hygiene and the swampy character of a region.

  5. An example of what could be done in real science. I am appalled at the waste of hundreds of billions, scientific labor that could be diverted to real and significant maladies, and time wasted – which is most precious.

  6. This is indeed good drug discovery news, if replicated (ahem). But it is a very long way (>10 years) from the discovery of a gene product protein’s function, to a sufficiently safe and effective therapeutic drug. Gleevec was the exception that proves the rule. Still, this is major science progress, IF replicated.

    • How many more children have to die before we go back to the tried and true solution. In areas that have Malaria we need to aggressively fight it with DDT. Not just paint the walls, but wide spread spraying until it is gone.

      • The fact is that those like you that show such concern about the lives of others in the third world never lift a finger (other than to type) to help them.

        • Hmmmm. You don’t know me, or what I have done, or my family history . Yet you judge me. As in pre-judge me based on your pre-concieved notions. That is called prejudice.

  7. The money being wasted on meaningless research and junkets in the pursuit of the phantom CAGW could be turned to finding ways of denying the mosquito its preventable breeding places where it is prevalent.
    I also like the idea of DDT paint, now won’t that intelligent solution make the greenuts howl!

  8. The drug industry is no better than the CAGW for “trough dweller-ship” in too many cases, to be avoided by source alternatives with education and engineering at all costs!

    • That’s correct, but the difference is though that the private sector performs regular culls on the underperformers, and that’s no more evident than in the drug industry. You can see a few going on right now – live. It’s often whole departments or whole “campuses”, and many times CEOs are replaced just because it’s time for a change.
      The climate parasites have evaded this process, but it will happen. In fact, one has to wonder what Senator Inhofe is waiting for.

  9. Malaria is not even a tropical disease. It used to be endemic in Britain, Europe and US before it was eradicated.
    Malaria is a disease of poverty where the populace and government are too poor to carry out organised eradication measures.
    Global Warming mitigation measures will make the western economies decline and that means poverty. Think about it!

  10. Malaria is not a tropical disease. It once plagued NW Ohio during the days of “The Great Black Swamp”. Before the days of DDT and Rachael Carson the problem was solved by draining “The Great Black Wetland”.
    Imagine trying to do that today.
    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for a better treatment for malaria. I’m more for aiming at cause and it’s carrier. CO2 is the wrong target.
    PS Northwest Ohio has never been known for it’s tropical climate.

    • As an Ohioan I agree completely. There was also a malaria swamp in the Miami river valley. It was drained in the early 19th century to allow cultivation of the land.
      Drainage is the single most effective method of Malaria control. The ancient Romans drained southwestern Italy and malaria disappeared. In the middle ages, the roman drainage works ceased to function and the area became malarial again.
      Sadly “environmentalists” have decreed that malaria swamps are to be thought of as “ecologically important wetlands”. If the US had an EPA in the 19th century we would still have pandemic malaria.

      • Illinois too was swampy and pestilential. The land is drained with lazy rivers and a slew of sloughs. The area adjacent to the confluence of the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri rivers was known as the American Bottom, which in earlier times was home to the the Mississipian culture of mound builders.

  11. In the early 20th century, there were 30,000 malaria victims at Archangel, Russia, just short of the Arctic Circle. Mosquitoes need still fresh water, not warmth.
    5 years ago, I mentioned this fact to a pathological Leftie of my acquaintance (who was likewise threatening the world with increased malaria). I didn’t mention the date. On the spot, he fantasised a Soviet submarine returning from Cuba with an migrating malarial mosquito on board.
    Never, ever, underestimate the utter stupidity of the ratbag Left.

  12. DDT had no measurable side-effects and worked well. Damn politics! Bring back DDT!

  13. Scientists have discovered new ways in which the malaria parasite survives in the blood stream of its victims, a discovery that could pave the way to new treatments for the disease.

    Not if the malthusian greens rally against it. Consider how wildly successful they were with DDT.

  14. Good news on the medical front in the battle against malaria. DDT, of course, could have saved millions of lives. Isn’t it a shame how the simple human desire for cleanliness with a helping of puritan loathing of waste and avarice could be so misled as to become “green”. Shame that there doesn’t seem to be anyone on the political horizon that could just talk plain english and explain to the public the course of action that allows us to retain and improve the gains made in environmental quality as well as create a sufficiently energy dense form of energy production as to enhance our economic flexibility. Heavy lifting in electrical energy to nuclear power and hydroelectric is the solution that is so obvious as to be ludicrous by anybody’s standard. Wind and Solar are only useful in the shadow of a robust energy rich industrial economy.

  15. Ahhh… good strategy. Go after the disease, not the carrier.
    If we eradicate mosquitoes, what will the bats eat?

    • let them eat cake.
      Q. What is the difference between a lawyer and a mosquito?
      A. One is a blood sucking parasite and the other is an insect.

      • Awww… ferd. I suppose the bat-killing wind farms will make starving bats a moot point. There may not be any bats to eat cake, mosquitoes, or anything else.
        “If we had some bats, they could eat the mosquitoes, if we had some mosquitoes.” ;o)

  16. The malaria parasites only multiply at 16 degree Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) or above. So, malaria can indeed occur seasonally in temperate or even arctic zones, but only in a warm climate will it occur year-round. Therefore, it is more difficult to control and eradicate in the tropics than in cooler climates.
    Nevertheless, effective methods for malaria control in tropical countries were developed more than one hundred years ago, very briefly after the discovery of malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes (by Ronald Ross, 1897). The construction of the Panama canal was made possible only by the eradication of yellow fever and the tight control of malaria in the Canal zone, through the meticulous application of drainage, oiling of water, and other methods of mosquito habitat destruction. Similar methods were used successfully in British Malaya and Indonesia at the same time or even earlier.
    A very good technical and historical account of these events can be found in the book “Rural sanitation in the Tropics”, published by one of the pioneers of malaria control, Malcolm Watson, in 1915. PDF versions of this book can be downloaded for free from my website. Considering that the effectiveness of most insecticides, including DDT continues to erode due to increasing insect resistance, it stands to reason that these traditional methods deserve renewed attention.
    Of course, all this doesn’t diminish the research into new drug targets and drugs against malaria – they will still be needed, and I applaud Anthony for drawing attention to this interesting paper.

    • Comment of the thread.
      DDT works but isn’t a magic bullet.
      Land management is still the way to make an environment fit for people.

    • Michael Palmer July 7, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      [,,,] The construction of the Panama canal was made possible only by the eradication of yellow fever and the tight control of malaria in the Canal zone, through the meticulous application of drainage, oiling of water, and other methods of mosquito habitat destruction.

      (Bold was mine)
      In the US, the rules and regulations of the EPA punish the actions you mention. They are trying to preserve and expand wetlands and a few drops of oil spread on water will bring untold misery in fines and litigation. With malaria-friendly policies like this, how long will it be before malaria returns with a vengeance to the USA?

      • Good question.
        You do need a human reservoir as well, so as long as the population can be kept healthy, the presence of insect vectors does no harm. However, migration – particularly of the illegal kind, which would bring in people who fall through the cracks of health care and surveillance – in combination with neglect of environmental control might do the trick.

    • According to the CDC:

      Temperature is particularly critical. For example, at temperatures below 20°C (68°F), Plasmodium falciparum (which causes severe malaria) cannot complete its growth cycle in the Anopheles mosquito, and thus cannot be transmitted.
      At last check – 7/8/2015 23:00Z – it was 57.5 °F in Macomb, Illinois, and raining.

      • There are several different kinds of malaria plasmodia, with different temperature cutoffs. Falciparum is indeed the one that causes the most severe form of malaria.

      • World Health Organization’s press release, approving DDT for worldwide use to combat malaria, via spraying inside buildings, homes and huts:
        WHO gives indoor use of DDT a clean bill of health for controlling malaria
        WHO promotes indoor spraying with insecticides as one of three main interventions to fight malaria
        15 SEPTEMBER 2006 | WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly thirty years after phasing out the widespread use of indoor spraying with DDT and other insecticides to control malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that this intervention will once again play a major role in its efforts to fight the disease. WHO is now recommending the use of indoor residual spraying (IRS) not only in epidemic areas but also in areas with constant and high malaria transmission, including throughout Africa.
        “We must take a position based on the science and the data,” said Dr Arata Kochi, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme. “One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual house spraying. Of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.”
        Indoor residual spraying is the application of long-acting insecticides on the walls and roofs of houses and domestic animal shelters in order to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes that land on these surfaces.
        “Indoor spraying is like providing a huge mosquito net over an entire household for around-the-clock protection,” said U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a leading advocate for global malaria control efforts. “Finally, with WHO’s unambiguous leadership on the issue, we can put to rest the junk science and myths that have provided aid and comfort to the real enemy – mosquitoes – which threaten the lives of more than 300 million children each year.”

      • Also from the WHO’s 2006 press release, approving DDT for worldwide spraying inside of buildings:
        Each year, more than 500 million people suffer from acute malaria, resulting in more than 1 million deaths. At least 86 percent of these deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally an estimated 3,000 children and infants die from malaria every day and 10,000 pregnant women die from malaria in Africa every year. Malaria disproportionately affects poor people, with almost 60 percent of malaria cases occurring among the poorest 20 percent of the world’s population.

    So here’s what happens when you try to tell the truth about DDT. U of Michigan found some 1910 “ealed in glass” soil samples about 25 years ago. Analyzed they showed: 10 PPM of DDT! (Problem: Modern DDT production began in 1937..) Thus it’s NATURAL, and the amount is NOT due to it spreading in the “environment” and “never decaying”. (Poppycock!) Also note, if you estimate total TOPSOIL, multiply the mass by .000010 you get MORE TONES OF DDT than EVER PRODUCED. (Another factor that SHOULD have had THINKING people calling POPPYCOCK back in the ’60’s.

  18. Scientists have discovered new ways in which the malaria parasite survives in the blood stream of its victims…

    Shouldn’t that read Scientists have newly discovered ways in which the malaria parasite survives in the blood stream of its victims…
    Or is everything somehow unprecedented in the press?

  19. Rachel Carson call for a full ban on DDT. In the USA. Global. So many say this, many more presume it when blaming her for so many millions of deaths. But where is the evidence? Certainly not in Silent Spring.
    What Carson did was exaggerate and fabricate the science so as to scare people. The full ban was fought for, and achieved, long after she was dead. If you want to portion the blame, try the Environment Defence Fund.

  20. Diethyl-Dimethyl-Trichloroetethane or thereabouts is far less toxic to humans than many common household products. The problem with it is that it is very stable and it concentrates in the food chain. If you spray it willy-nilly the eagles die. Same net effect as windmills.
    Don’t do that. Play smart and target it.

    • Seems not that is quite correct.
      “In actuality, however, declines in bird populations either had occurred before DDT was present or had occured years after DDT’s use. A comparison of the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Counts between 1941 (pre-DDT) and 1960 (after DDT’s use had waned) reveals that at least 26 different kinds of birds became more numerous during those decades, the period of greatest DDT usage. The Audubon counts document an overall increase in birds seen per observer from 1941 to 1960, and statistical analyses of the Audubon data confirm the perceived increases. For example, only 197 bald eagles were documented in 194111; the number had increased to 891 in 1960.12”

      • The effect is going to depend on the habits of the particular birds. The more trophic layers below them, the greater the concentration. Very high concentrations have been measured in the eggs of failed nests.

    • The real problem of bird decline was lead poisoning, not DDT and the lead was from the barrel of a gun. Only when people attitudes about predatory birds change did they come back, ditto for the turkey, when I was young turkeys supposedly need pristine forest to survive, now they are everywhere, the simple reason now when they show up the don’t automatic end up in a cooking pot. How many time does on have to repeat correlation is not causation.

      • Mark, I have heard that before, but I have never seen actual numbers such as ppm lead actually found in bird carcasses. How many carcasses surveyed, how much lead? Where are the clinical trials that prove how much lead damages a bird? Is it the same for a sparrow as an eagle? Can you point me in the right direction? Since I am a Simple Red Neck, I could use some help from a statistician to figure out if the study is valid or just more Green Horsepuckey., Or is it a consensus of learned people, like Catastrophic Global Warming and no proof needed?

      • Correlation is not causation. It is possible that the failed eggs caused the high DDT concentration or that an unknown factor caused both the failure and the high DDT. No lead shot was found in the failed nests.

  21. Further to the malaria/climate non-nexus:
    ‘The present study of the frequency of northern malaria cases and temperature data establishes the relation between malaria and climate. Endemic malaria existed exclusively as an indoor disease independently of climate. The temperature of the preceding summer regulated the amplitude of malaria cases. Infected people spread malaria into new regions, where mosquito populations transferred malaria locally. The mosquito-human interaction in human dwellings then maintained the introduced malaria in the new region …’:

  22. DDT has been used for malaria mosquito control in South Africa for many years. One problem is that after prolonged exposure, certain populations may become resistant. Many years ago when I worked in the field of medical entomology, there was a strange twist in the whole malaria mosquito control operation in the province now called KwaZulu-Natal. The huts of the rural folk were also infested with bed-bugs, and these had developed resistance to DDT. When the indoor surfaces of the huts were sprayed, the DDT killed the mosquitoes but merely irritated the bed-bugs, which apparently then attacked the occupants with a vengeance. As a result, the Health Department mosquito control teams became known as the ‘bringers of bugs’, and many householders locked their huts and disappeared over the hills when they heard the DDT guys were headed their way! Another unexpected consequence of all this was that the bed-bugs transmit serum hepatitis to humans, thus replacing one serious disease with another. Malaria epidemics in southern Africa are associated with periods of high rainfall, which happen on a cyclic basis. Mosquito populations then proliferate and spread beyond their normal distribution ranges. There is no reason to think that ‘climate change’ will increase the incidence of malaria in Africa, and this remains yet another fairy tale of the alarmists and journos. Thank you to Anthony for bringing us this interesting item – but it is a long way from the research laboratories in the UK to the remote rural areas of Africa.

  23. I wonder what Obama’s legacy might have been had he thrown $500 million at Malaria instead of Solyndra.

  24. Who would have thought that the most frequently inserted words used by scientists in the 21st century would be “if” , “could”, “might”, “possibly”, “may”. Isn’t progress wonderful.

  25. This is an example of real science at work. No computer models of malaria spitting out results, but actual testing of the actual phenomena and collection of real data. Oh I am sure they did use computers and maybe even protien modelling software, but then they took the computer simulations and di real world experiments to validate the computers output.

  26. “…Professor David Baker, co-lead author from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “It is a great advantage in drug discovery research if you know the identity of the molecular target of a particular drug and the consequences of blocking its function. It helps in designing the most effective combination treatments and also helps to avoid drug resistance which is a major problem in the control of malaria worldwide…””

    There is not drug.
    There is a possibility of a drug somewhere in the future. It currently takes, what? Approximately ten to fifteen years to get a drug through the FDA?
    Another news release long before there is genuine news to release.

  27. I’ve commented on this absurdity before. Many (possibly hundreds) of workers on the Erie Canal died of Malaria during the Little Ice Age (Canal construction began in 1817, in the period of intense cold that followed the Tambora eruption two years earlier). Malaria was endemic in Canada and Siberia. It is not limited by cold, then or now. It is confined to warm tropical countries now only because they are poor and failed to eradicate or control the Anopheles mosquito and treat/protect enough humans to break the chain of transmission. It is a simple fact that humans are the only animal reservoir for Malaria so if we prevented all human cases of Malaria for one single year Malaria would be eradicated from the Earth. Indeed, given the lifetime of mosquitoes it probably wouldn’t take a full year.
    Here having a temperate climate and winter does help, but the key is not as it was then having houses with screens, adequate mosquito netting for beds, air conditioning so you can sleep indoors at night without open air circulation to remain cool enough not to die of heat exhaustion before morning, and adequate medical resources to treat malaria cases that emerge to eliminate the residual plasmodium and break the chain of infection. A vaccine would also (obviously) be sufficient to wipe it out in a matter of year.
    All of this requires a) cheap energy; b) education; c) the development of wealth and social/economic standards in the third world. And we have the global wealth to easily accomplish this.
    Sadly, what blocks this is not DDT or the lack thereof — I’m perfectly willing to believe that DDT is a bad thing to spray indiscriminately because very few chlorinated hydrocarbons are good things to spray indiscriminately. It is the diversion of the focussed will and surplus wealth of the world into “Global Warming” remediation instead of the elimination of poverty. It is the perpetuation of poverty caused by the artificially high costs of energy caused by this diversion. It is (and there is no easy way to say this, either) the nonsense of religions and regional tribalism that perpetuate strife and one way or another interferes with the education and social reform needed to break the chain of infection. Yes, in some places religious workers do good works and help, but when faced with e.g. ISIS or the damage caused by religious extremism, that work fades to nothing.

    • Well it does help to remember that the only infectious disease that has been eradicated so far is smallpox, a disease which is transmitted directly from human to human, and that this was accomplished with an effective and cheap vaccine, under global political conditions that were more conducive to the effort than they would be today.
      An effective malaria vaccine is still not on the horizon; in fact, there is no completely effective vaccine against germs other than viruses.* Moreover, both drugs directed at the malaria parasites and insecticides directed at the mosquito vectors are afflicted by resistance and therefore will not suffice to eradicate the disease.
      DDT: The only large-scale attempt to use it outdoors against malaria was made, and failed, in Sardinia during the late 1940s. Since then, it has been used indoors, and the environmental and medical side effects of this application are marginal. (Agricultural use and abuse is a separate issue.). The problem with it is not that it is banned – for the ban concerns only agriculture; its use against malaria is regulated by the Stockholm convention – but widespread resistance, particularly in India, where DDT use has been ongoing for many decades.
      I agree with you that the key to successful eradication of malaria (and other infectious diseases) will be economic prosperity and good administration.
      *(Diphtheria and tetanus are bacterial diseases and are preventable by vaccines, but those vaccines inactive the exotoxins of the bacteria; they do not kill the bacterial cells themselves. Various vaccines directed against bacterial cells such as Hemophilus or meningococci are usefully but not completely effective.)

  28. Risk vs Reward
    DDT risk is known to be hyper inflated. Sea bird egg shell thinning… remember THAT lie!
    Reward 500,000 lives per year saved, at least.
    Risk = 0.0001
    Reward = 10,000,000,000
    So why isn’t the earth covered with 1 foot of DDT by now and why aren’t mosquitoes a forgotten boogyman story to scare kids?

  29. It is unfortunate that the report here did not specify which malaria specie(s) were involved in the study. Of the four human species, one in particular, P. falciparum, is perhaps the worst. It causes changes in the “stickiness” of the erythrocytes it infects, leading to secondary damage in organs such as the brain and kidney, where the infected cells could be said to “clog” the capillaries, causing syndromes like cerebral malaria and “blackwater fever”, where the urine turns almost black. It would be a Godsend if this killer could be stopped cold in its tracks. Further, if the kinase mechanism is common to all, and characteristics the key enzyme sufficiently similar, all well and good.
    However, as stunning as these findings identifying a key enzyme needed for survival of the erythrocyte form (the merozoite) are, developing a workable therapeutic is a different matter. Obviously it must be effective against all four species. Beyond that, it must be cheap and readily available to treat indigenous populations, who, as with any anti-malarial therapy, must be overseen for a sufficient duration of time to break the parasite’s local life cycle. Development of resistance to the treatment is additional matter, of course.
    DDT on the other hand? Spray it, and forget it. It does its job without monitoring.

  30. Cinnamon Oil Kills Mosquitoes
    July 16, 2004
    American Chemical Society
    Cinnamon oil shows promise as a great-smelling, environmentally friendly pesticide, with the ability to kill mosquito larvae more effectively than DEET, according to a new study.

  31. This (in form) is not new.
    From the discovery that the malaria genome is 1/3 plant, someone tested (on a small adult group) a herbicide tailored to target one of those genes, with immediate success (NS links to the original Lancet paper). I had expected a flurry of activity resulting in a suite of candidate malaricides targeting that gene or others, avoiding features likely to produce side-effects in mammals. Modern molecular modelling for such is well-established.
    As far as I can tell, that initiative ended at that trial. Has anyone seen more on the topic?

  32. I didn’t note this article in any of the posts, apologies if I missed it, but it seems relevant: From Shakespeare to Defoe: Malaria in England in the Little Ice Age.
    For those unaware, Paul Reiter is a former head of CDC. He is also vilified as a climate skeptic because he dared to question the connection between global warming and malaria’s possible resurgence.
    On the DDT side of thing…it’s not a cure-all. It’s a useful tool that may retain some utility for quite a while and it certainly could have saved any number of lives. Alternatives are needed, but the current perspective on what an insecticide should be (low toxicity, short residual, harmless breakdown products) and what is allowed to be registered doesn’t quite jive with what is achieved with DDT. The mammalian toxicity is relatively low (moderate by classic definition meaning an acute LD50 between 50 and 500) but the residual is what kick’s mosquito derriere. We don’t like residual effects (this is why we’re having bed bug issues too) anymore. So we’re unlikely to come up with alternatives of that sort. Affecting the vector in some way is likely the best hope going forward. But the ban on DDT in the third world heavily affected by malaria is/was borderline genocide.
    On Fred’s suggestion of cinnamon oil – um, no. First, DEET is a repellant, not an insecticide, so it doesn’t kill anything. Even achieving the most minimal of control with cinnamon oil in terms of mortality would make it more effective than any repellant, DEET or otherwise. Second, 2004 study – we’re 11 years beyond that point; given we’re aren’t spraying cinnamon oil all over the planet I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that once they got to efficacy trials it did diddly, much as it does as an insecticide in horticultural situations. Sadly the EPA requires no efficacy data for registration of insecticides, it lets the efficacy in the world decide the survival or failure of any given product. So cinnamon rears it’s head, mostly in the organically inclined world, every couple of years as a miracle insecticide. Lots of people buy it, someone makes money for a while and then people stop buying it because it doesn’t do squat. It goes away for a little while and the cycle repeats.

  33. Boulder Skeptic
    July 9, 2015 at 10:19 pm
    Your solution kills. Not a strawman dude…”
    My solution?
    Note please, that I’ve said not one word in this thread about that continent south of the Mediterranean Sea, about which you and many others have such great and noble concern, nor have I made any recommendations about the use of DDT.

    A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument which was not advanced by that opponent.

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