As we enter into National Mosquito Awareness week
, it is only appropriate we give a shout out to malaria, the mosquito-borne illness that has been causing fever, joint pain, shivering, vomiting, convulsions and sometimes death in people ever since there were people.
You can partially attribute the declines of the Greek and Roman empires to malaria epidemics, and the majority of Union soldiers caught the nasty disease during the Civil War. While malaria has now been more or less been eradicated from non-tropical environments, there are still between 350 and 500 million cases a year, with one to three million resulting in death.
If you do happen to run into the wrong bug in the wrong place, it usually takes one to two weeks before the unpleasantness sets in. When it does, you can comfort yourself with the fact that many great (and not so great) men have been in the same feverish boat. We list some of our favorite malaria sufferers after the jump
Alexander the Great
was able to defeat the mighty Persian army, but some historians believe he couldn't overcome the bite of a tiny mosquito, and died of malaria at age 32.Christopher Columbus
may be responsible for introducing malaria to the new world. So when the explorer came down with his own acute case in 1503, it was rather fitting.
If wooden teeth, a hyperactive conscience and the British army weren't enough, George Washington
also suffered recurrent malaria attacks throughout his life.
After contracting a debilitating case of malaria during a long trek, Davy Crockett
was left for dead by some not-so-loyal travel companions. Of course, he beat the illness and later died a far more glorious death at the Alamo.
It was pretty much inevitable that Ernest Hemingway
would catch malaria on one of his adventures. And he did, while covering the Greco-Turkish war as a foreign correspondent.
While we now know John F. Kennedy
kept a stunning list of medical issues hidden from the public, he was always up-front about the malaria he contracted during World War II.
In 1944, a severe case of malaria resulted in Mahatma Gandhi
getting an early medical release from the last of his imprisonments for nonviolent civil disobedience.
Despite missing most of spring training due to a bout with malaria, Roberto Clemente
won the National League batting title in 1965.Jeremy Piven
-- no stranger to exotic maladies
-- caught malaria while filming "PCU." What makes this odd is "PCU" appears to have been shot in not-so-tropical Toronto.Anderson Cooper
and Chris Matthews
were each hospitalized after catching malaria on (separate) trips to Africa. Upon learning this, we hear Wolf Blitzer had all standing water removed from the Situation Room.