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Toll of the Tsetse and the Conquest of Malaria

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The Tsetse Fly was most probably the greatest single factor why Africa was given its name of the Dark Continent. For the fatal diseases that its bite passed into the blood – sleeping sickness in man and nagana in livestock – made the areas of Central Africa and Zululand uninhabitable.

For years to come locals believed that the only way to control the Tsetse was to kill their live stock, witch supplied them with nourishment. In these times these regions took on the appearance of an abattoir.

Over the next 10 years, the number Tsetse Flies dropped dramatically. It was a joyfully claimed that the menace had been overcome. After a while, disaster, there was a virulent outbreak of nagana again. It became apparent that the Tsetse was subject to cycles.

As the Tsetse Flies increased yet again, there was a renewed clamor for the extermination of all wild animals. Tens of thousands was shot in game reserves and more than 60 000 livestock died of nagana in Zululand

Experiments began with aerial spraying of D.D.T. The fly population dropped sensationally until it ultimately vanquished.


There was a time when a new settler in areas such as Zululand was not regarded as 'naturalized' until he had malaria.

Every summer the fever was endemic and there seemed to be no way of avoiding it. The hummm of mosquitoes was the dominant sound in quite nights. All that people could do was close themselves with quinine and hope fore the best.

If cerebral malaria or the virulent blackwater fever was contracted, the victim generally died. Otherwise it was a question of days of delirium, high fever and headaches.

Professors disclosed that of all the many species of mosquito in South Africa, only two were carriers of malaria. Both were essentially house-dwelling, biting at night and indoors. Nowadays, the availability of anti-malaria pills has virtually ended the menace.



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