Once Bitten: Mosquito-Borne Malariotherapy and the Emergence of Ecological Malariology Within and Beyond Imperial Britain

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December 27, 2022

This article explores the extent to which the emergence of networked conceptions of etiology and network-oriented approaches to the organization of medical practice were historically congruent. Focusing on interwar malariology, it contextualizes the development of ecological approaches to infection management and control in terms of mosquito-borne malariotherapeutic practice. In Britain, mosquito breeding programs directed toward the therapeutic infection of mental hospital patients prompted malariologists to modify and refine existing environmental approaches to malaria. Breeding mosquitoes, attending to patients, and maintaining sources of malarial blood modified malariologists’ etiological presumptions, contributing to a wider breakdown of associations between race, place, and disease. Simultaneously, the emergence of an international network of malariotherapy-devoted institutions helped transform malariological practice. Examination of a collaboration between British and Romanian malariologists shows one way in which this network contributed to the transformation of malariology from a formal League of Nations–focused endeavor to one distributed along common lines of research and prevention.