Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/53

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
45
THE MOSQUITO THEORY OF MALARIA.

the habits of the various species of mosquito and as regards the capacity of each for carrying malaria, is not complete. All I can now say is that if my anticipations be realized—if it be found that the malaria-bearing species of mosquito multiply only in small isolated collections of water which can easily be dissipated—we shall possess a simple mode of eliminating malaria from certain localities.

I limit this statement to certain localities only, because it is obvious that where the breeding pools are very numerous, as in water-logged country, or where the inhabitants are not sufficiently advanced to take the necessary precautions, we can scarcely expect the recent observations to be of much use—at least for some years to come. And this limitation must, I fear, exclude most of the rural areas in India.

Where, however, the breeding pools are not very numerous, and where there is anything approaching a competent sanitary establishment, we may, I think, hope to reap the benefit of these discoveries. And this should apply to the most crowded areas, such as those of cities, towns and cantonments, and also to tea, coffee, and indigo estates, and perhaps to military camps.

For instance, malaria causes an enormous amount of sickness among the poor in most Indian cities. Here the common species of mosquitoes breed in the precincts of almost all the houses, and can therefore scarcely be exterminated; but pools suitable for the spotted-winged varieties are comparatively scarce, being found only on vacant areas, ill-kept gardens, or beside roads in very exceptional positions where they can neither dry up quickly nor contain fish. Thus a single small puddle may supply the dangerous mosquitoes to several square miles containing a crowded population: if this be detected and drained off—which will generally cost only a very few rupees—we may expect malaria to vanish from that particular area.

The same considerations will apply to military cantonments and estates under cultivation. In many such malaria causes the bulk of the sickness, and may often, I think, originate from two or three small puddles of a few square yards in size. Thus in a malarious part of the cantonment of Secunderabad I found the larvæ of spotted-winged mosquitoes only after a long search in a single little pool which could be filled up with a few cart-loads of town rubbish.

In making these suggestions I do not wish to excite hopes which may ultimately prove to have been unfounded. We do not yet know all the dangerous species of mosquito, nor do we even possess an exhaustive knowledge of the haunts and habits of any one