Malaria vs Giant Rabbit

April 25, 2011

Torah Kachur

It's Easter Monday - a happy day of chocolate hangovers and a day off in the sun.  It's also April 25th which marks World Malaria Day - a not-so-happy day of remembering dead children and preventable diseases.  Now I'm faced with a battle of epic proportions to decide what blog to write - the Easter Bunny vs the Mosquito.


First up - a fluff blog about a recently discovered ancestor to the Easter bunny.  Called Nuralagus rex, this giant 26 pounder existed 3 to 5 million years ago and isn't nearly as cute as the wonderful creature that is responsible for my current tummy ache.  This ancient rabbit also couldn't hop owing to a much more stiff backbone than your pet Hoppy.  Can't hop, doesn't leave chocolate and isn't cute.  Seems like three strikes to me. 




Flip to the second blog option - World Malaria Day.  Malaria is a mosquito borne illness that affects over 250 million people annually and over 1 million of those people die.  Infection, Death, Mosquitos - not my favorite subjects. 


World Malaria Day Torah Kachur Science in Seconds Malaria Plasmodium


The vast majority of malaria-related deaths are children under the age of 5 and pregnant women particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.  Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium family of eukaryotic parasites - tiny single-celled organisms that are introduced into the bloodstream by a mosquito bite and then travel to the liver.  Once in the liver, the parasite multiplies and reenters the blood stream where they now infect blood cells.  Upon infection of red blood cells, these erythrocytes can become sticky and cause complications in the vascular system causing both the cycles of fever and chills as well as the deadly complications of cerebral malaria.  All sounds way too serious for a monday morning blog.  Point - bunnies?  Okay, more like half a point because Nuralagus is still ugly. 


Let's look at the bright side though - a blog about Nuralagus rex would allow me to show adorable pictures of bunnies like this one. 



It would also be highly informative for people that want to randomly recite facts to strangers on the bus like "Giant rabbit ancestors were 26 pounds, that's how much fat the average Canadian needs to lose to not be overweight".  Awesome offensive advantage to rabbits on this one.


Back to the competitor.  Malaria is one of the most important medical causes in the world today.  Mostly because malaria is 100% preventable, something that can't be said for fundraising giants like breast cancer or diabetes.  In other words, we can actually have an impact with malaria that we can't even make a dent in with other health challenges.  A mosquito net, preventative insecticide spraying and simple education about how to prevent mosquite bites can save millions of lives.   And not just any lives, babies lives.  Save a baby.... sounds like a good cause to me. 


Guilt always beats cuteness, always.


How to help, you ask?  There are possible ways to supply mosquito nets to at-risk regions like or, if that isn't your cup of tea, education resources are also available to educate yourself and others.  If you feel the urge to visit any countries where malaria is endemic then buy a net yourself and walk into a mud hut and show someone how to use it.  But be sure to take malaria prophalaxis before you go, because malaria really bites.


So I'll write a blog about malaria today, oh, I guess I already have. 


Happy (?) Malaria Day - a day where 3000 children will die from malaria. 



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