There is a interesting thing about sickle cell anemia. People who carry the tendency to have sickle cell anemia are less likely to die from malaria. Sometimes what is bad in one situation helps out in another.


Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that likes to set up housekeeping in the red cells.

This parasite is carried by the Anopheles mosquito.



There are four kinds of malaria, but only one of them is potentially fatal.

Cells that sickle make a poor home for this parasite. The body can eliminate it before the parasite spreads too widely, before the person gets seriously ill.

Malaria is not common in the United States, but it is common in Mexico, Central Ameria, South Ameria, Africa and the Eastern Hemisphere. You can visit our map and other web sites to find out more about malaria and where it is the worst. People whose ancestors came from these regions are more likely to carry the sickle cell tendency, or trait. This trait may have helped them survive in times long ago. There are drugs that one can take to avoid malaria, but some of the malaria parasites have adapted by mutation so that they are resistant to these drugs. The idea that insects, bacteria and even people can adapt to changing circumstances is a very important idea. You may have heard of antibiotic resistance, where some kinds of germs become resistant to treatment and new drugs have to be used. Sometimes many generations of germs have to grow before a single germ adapts, by random mutation, to the new situation. Does it stop being a bacteria when it has adapted? This is an interesting idea. Don't be afraid to have your own opinion, but remember to test it scientifically before you believe it completely. Perhaps you will be the one to discover a new treatment for malaria or sickle cell anemia.