Thursday, April 03, 2008

Warming and malaria in England.

The headline in the New Zealand Herald said: “Global warming may bring malaria to Britain.”

Scary? The one problem is that England has seen malaria outbreaks for centuries. Dr. Mary Dobson, author of Contours of Death and Disease in Early Modern England, says it is difficult to pin down how many centuries ago the first malaria outbreak hit the British Isles. But apparently from the 15th centurry onwards it was endemic in south-east England and coastal areas of northern England.

In 1483 King Edward IV died of complications which included malaria. Oliver Cromwell died of malaria in 1658. In addition, the book Malaria: Obstacles and Opportunities reveals (page 38): “In England, King James I, King Charless II, and Cardinal Wolsey all suffered from intermittent fevers consisten with malaria.”

Malaria: A Traveller’s Guide says: “Malaria was commonly known in the English Fens and the marshy Thames Valley. Some of its more famous English victims included James 1 and Oliver Cromwell. Up until 1859, when the Thames Embankment was built, records show that 5% of admisstions to St. Thomas’ hospital in London were as a result of malaria.” There were malaria outbreaks in England following the First World War. From 1917 to 1952 there “were 566 cases of indigenous malaria in which 90% were in or near coastal areas of southeast England.”