Malaria (USPHS, 1944)


[Background music ] [Narrator:] It’s time to quit for the day.
The afternoon has worn itself out. In a short while now, it will be dark. Yes, it’s time to let the cotton and tobacco
go. Time to get the mules and horses, time to milk the cows if you keep cows, time to
quit work and head for home. Time for supper. [Sound of banging on a pan with a ladle.] [Woman:] Come and get it. [Narrator:] Come and get it, iced tea, corn
pones and grits, turnip greens, pork chops maybe. It’s been a long day and stomachs are
empty. Now supper is over and it’s evening time and
this is the time we want to talk about. Our story is about the time of day when it’s getting
dark and cool, about resting time. [Man singing song.] Yes, this is resting time. A time to sit quietly
and talk and play some music and sing a little if you’ve got a voice for things, but resting
time is a danger time too. The hours that come after dark are dangerous
hours. Mosquito hours from dark to dawn, the malaria-carrying mosquitoes search for food
and they bite people who are sleeping or sitting quietly or moving only a little. The cool hours of early dark are dangerous.
This is a time when the mosquitoes do their work. At this hour the call of come and get it echoes
over the swamp and mosquitoes come to find the supper. “Come and get it” echoes in the
dark days. Come and get it and the mosquitoes come from
the sinkholes, from pools choked with grass, weeds, twigs, and flowers. From creeks crowded with water plants, from
all these places mosquitoes come searching for supper and they come from their hiding
places in hollow tree stumps, from the dark, cool corners behind them, from the dark cool corners of stables, from the dark cool corners of barns. Yes, evening is suppertime for the malaria
mosquitoes too. They leave the wet places where they breed in the dark, cool places
where they hide during the heat of the day, and they come looking for their supper. They come looking for you or somebody like
you looking for people. This is the Anopheles quadrimaculatus — you
can call her quad for short. You can recognize her by the way she stands on her head when
she bites. This other mosquito stands hunched up. It’s
annoying but it can’t give you malaria…but remember this one, the mosquito that stands
on its head, the malaria mosquito. She doesn’t make much noise and her bite doesn’t
sting or hurt much. So the little girl who was bitten won’t say anything about the bite.
Not now. But in a few weeks she’s sick, call it swamp
fever, chills or ague, but whatever it’s called, this is malaria. She shivers with cold for
a few hours and then burns with fever. [ Background music and singing. Image of young girl in a rocking chair.] People who have malaria are so tired and weak
for many months. This is malaria, the malaria that passes from the body of the mosquito
to the body of the person when the mosquito bites. Malaria makes millions sick every year. It
keeps men from work in the fields, and women from work in the home. Malaria wears people down and it wears them
out and when a man is rundown, his land runs down and his home runs down, and his wife
and his children, they run down too. Malaria doesn’t kill many but it makes millions
unfit for work, it makes them poor and it keeps them poor. Here’s how malaria gets to people. The little
girl is sick with malaria. She’s had no treatment. Now a mosquito bites her again and takes some blood from her body, and with her blood takes malaria. The sickness grows in the mosquito’s body.
In a few weeks, if that mosquito comes back to this house and infects one of the family
by biting them, that person will become sick. A few weeks later he has chills and fever.
The mosquito has taken the malaria from his sister’s blood and put it into his blood.
The farmer looks at both his children and worries, and then…. [Man:] We’ve got two sick in the house now. [Woman:] I think we better get a doctor. Better
get him now. [Man:] Yeah, no use thinking about the money
it’ll cost. We can’t let them go on like this. And I got to have Jim in the fields. I can’t
make out unless I got him helping. [Woman:] Malaria always comes when the crops
need looking after…always stays ’til the crops are in. And you can’t afford to be sick. [Narrator:] So the doctor comes. He examines
the boy and his sister. Yes, this looks like malaria, but the doctor makes sure. He takes
a few drops of blood from the finger of each patient. The blood is smeared on a small piece of glass. Then the blood is examined under the powerful magnifying glass of a microscope in a laboratory. This is what the microscope shows; those little
spots in the blood, the spots that are circles, those are the parasites that cause malaria. Now the doctor is sure and he gives him and
his sister quinine. Sometimes a doctor prescribes atabrine or another medicine. This medicine destroys the malaria in
their blood and helps them get well Some people need special treatment. The doctor decides what that treatment should be and then the doctor speaks to the farmer. [Doctor:] The medicine is going to help them
get well, but if you want to protect your family against malaria, there are other things
you’ll have to do. [Man:] I’ll do anything I can, doctor. [Doctor:] You can start by putting mosquito
netting over both the sickbeds. That’s fine. That net will keep the mosquitoes away from them and then the mosquitoes won’t be able to bite them and carry the malaria to somebody else. [Woman:] For how long, doctor? How long are
they going to be sick? [Doctor:] They’ll start getting better soon.
Malaria doesn’t bother people long if they get the right kind of treatment. They should
be up and around in a few days. Of course, they’ll have to continue treatment. [Woman:] Is there anything more I can do,
Doctor? [Doctor:] Give them the medicine in the way I told you and keep them as comfortable as you can. But there’s a lot you can do to prevent
malaria. The man who can help you do it is your health officer. Better look him up the first chance you get. [Narrator:] And a week or so later the health
officer comes to the house and tells the farmer what he can do to protect his family against
malaria. [Health officer:] You’ve got to screen this
porch. And use fine wire so malaria mosquitos can’t get through it. All the windows should be screened. The way to keep malaria out is to keep mosquitoes out. Every opening big enough
to let a mosquito in must be covered or screened. [Man:] It’s kinda hard to put out a lot of
money for screens this time of year. [Health officer:] It doesn’t cost a lot of
money. It might be a lot to put out at one time, but it only comes to about three dollars a year. Most
of you folks are spending about twenty-five dollars every year for pill medicines. It’s
a lot cheaper to buy screens. [Man:] I guess it is. Still money is right
scarce this time of year. [Health officer:] If you folks are really
poor, you might borrow it. You’ve got to protect your family. When you get the screening, I’ll show you how to put it up and even if the screening is up you’ve got a job to do. You’ve got to look for mosquitoes in all the
dark, cool corners where they hide. Look behind the bed and in the dark, cool places in the
barn. Wherever there’s a dark, cool place, because that’s where mosquitoes hide, and when you find mosquitoes, you’ve got to swat them or kill them with a spray gun. [Narrator:] Those are the things you can do
to fight malaria to keep yourself and your family healthy and at work. Keep the mosquitoes
out, but there’s more to be done. The mosquitoes must be destroyed. That is
your community’s job. Malaria mosquitoes lay their eggs in warm pools and ponds near the
banks of quiet lakes, near water plants. Ponds can be drained so that the mosquitoes
will have no place to lay their eggs. Sometimes ponds can be filled to destroy the breeding
places of the malaria mosquito. These are the larvae or wiggle-tails that
hatch out of the malaria mosquito egg. Brush at the water’s edge makes a protective place for the larvae. When the brush is cut away, this protection is destroyed. The wiggle-tails live in water until they become full-grown mosquitoes. Poison dust spread on the water kills the wiggle-tails. Oils sprayed on the surface of the water kill
the wiggle- tails too. In some places, planes are used to spray water
with poison dust. All these things have to be done by people who know how, people trained
to do the work. It’s a big job. It takes a long time and costs
a lot of money, but it doesn’t cost as much as malaria costs, and it prevents the sickness and suffering that malaria brings. The community must get rid of malaria mosquitoes
for good with dust and oil, with permanent draining systems that leave no quiet water
in which these mosquitoes can lay their eggs. But until the community does this, you have
a job to do in your home, your church, your meeting halls. You’ve got to keep mosquitoes out. Screen the doors and windows, cover the
fireplaces to keep them from coming down through the chimney. Cover the cracks in the floor.
Cover the cracks in the walls and ceiling. Those things are your job. If you need help, speak to your health officer.
He can tell you how to keep mosquitoes and malaria out of your house, how to protect
your home and family. Fight malaria so that you can be strong to
do the work that must be done. Strong to live well so that when evening time comes, resting time, you can rest safely. Remember the mosquito that stands on her head
can put you flat on your back. Ask your health officer for advice. Keep the mosquitoes out. Keep malaria out. [Organ music]

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