Details

Date1880
AuthorLaveran
ContributionDiscovered agent (Plasmodium) of malaria.
ReferenceFoster
NotesServing with the French army in Algeria, he observed the transparent protozoan parasites when examining blood from spleen and other tissues of cadavers and, most important, fresh blood from living patients. His attention had been drawn to these transparent bodies by the presence within them of the black malarial pigment that had long been seen in the tissues of malaria victims (see Meckel). Laveran saw that the pigment was not only free in blood, and not only present in leucocytes that had engulfed it, but also present in the transparent bodies. He saw spherical and crescentic [macrogamete] forms. On Nov. 6, 1880 he saw the motile filamentous [microgamete] forms. He named the parasite Oscillaria malariae. Malaria, as the name suggests, had long been considered a miasma. A renouned epidemiologist wrote: "... contagium vivum did not displace miasma generally until the middle eighties of the nineteenth century; the final victory was gained when Laveran found the malarial parasite and others demonstrated its transmissioin; the last stronghold of miasma had fallen" (Major Greenwood, in Science, Medicine and History [E. A. Underwood, ed.] Oxford Univ. Press, 1953, Vol. 2, p 501-507).
CategoryCausation
Pathogen ClassProtozoa

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