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"Examine the role of the physical environment in the development and spread of malaria".

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Introduction

A Level geography (6475/02)                                                                      Global futures report

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“Examine the role of the physical environment in the development and spread of malaria”

Introduction

At present at least 300,000,000 people are affected by malaria globally and there are about 1,500,000 deaths from the disease each year.  Malaria is generally endemic in the tropics but also spreads into the sub-tropics.  Distribution varies greatly from country to country and also within those countries, as the flight range of the vector from a suitable habitat is limited to a maximum of two miles.

Inc. diagram of general distribution throughout the world

Microscopic protozoa called plasmodium, which acts as a parasite on its host, cause malaria.  Female mosquitoes transmit it and the distribution of these depends a great deal on the physical environment in order for them to flourish.

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Middle

Malaria needs temperatures of 16°C and above; otherwise the parasite is unable to develop inside the stomach of the mosquito.  Above 32°C, the parasite is unlikely to survive.  Therefore malaria can only affect certain areas of the globe that provide suitable temperatures.  These areas are going to be warmer areas and the disease is unlikely to affect colder regions.  However an increase in the tourism industry in warmer places has increased the risk of the disease speeding into areas outside the tropics.  Travellers returning from overseas bring about 200 cases of malaria into the UK.

image00.png

Fig. 2    Annual average temperature (°C) 1997

There is a clear match between temperature and distribution of malaria.  When I compare fig 1, which shows the distribution of malaria, with fig 2, I can see

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Conclusion

Inc. Map of Altitude/Relief

Rainfall

Mosquitoes require rain and moisture for them to breed.  They tend to lay eggs in lakes and swampy areas.  Therefore areas with high precipitation will have higher numbers of mosquitoes and therefore cases of malaria are likely to be more common.

image01.png

There is a clear match between rainfall and distribution of malaria.  There is a clear match between temperature and distribution of malaria.  There are very little cases in northern Africa where rainfall is between 0-75.

When I compare fig 1, which shows the distribution of malaria, with fig 2, I can see that areas with high numbers of malaria cases, lie in regions where the annual average temperature is between 15.5 °C and 30.5 °C.

Christopher Blundell

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