You might have noticed an uptick in new “holidays” in recent years, like National Splurge Day and National Onion Ring Day. While many such days don’t really celebrate anything, Saturday’s World Mosquito Day commemorates an important event in medical history.
On August 20, 1897, Sir Ronald Ross made a huge discovery—he found a malaria parasite inside a mosquito. This was important because while some had hypothesized that mosquitoes spread malaria, the theory hadn’t yet been proven.
Ross’s discovery helped doctors and scientists realize that female Anopheles mosquitoes could spread the disease—and that people could prevent it by protecting their skin from the pests. Ross's work was honored with a Nobel Prize and is now remembered every August 20, World Mosquito Day.
Once the connection between malaria and mosquitoes was made, people knew to use mosquito protection when traveling through areas where the disease was prevalent. These pictures show some of the ways that people protected themselves from mosquitoes in the first 50 years after Ross’s discovery.
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