Similar detective work gave doctors the knowledge to control malaria.17 During 1898 Grassi painstakingly documented cases of the disease in the malaria region of Italy and noted the kind of mosquitoes prevailing in houses where outbreaks occurred. It had already been suggested many years before that mosquitoes could be the origin of the disease and parasites had been found in the blood of patients in 1880. Grassi was able to discount most types of mosquito and was left with the Anopheles as the only possible vector of the human disease. He obtained final proof by allowing Anopheles to bite a human volunteer who subsequently developed malaria.
While Grassi carried out his epidemiological studies, Ross proved that mosquitoes were involved in the transmission of malaria in birds but provided no evidence that such was the case in people, nor that Anopheles was definitely the correct vector. Nevertheless, it was Ross and not Grassi who received the Nobel Prize. As epidemiologist Dr Sigmund Peller explains,17 this “proves only that, in the medical world and with the Nobel Committee, microscopical and experimental studies on animals have carried more weight than the epidemiological method, although the latter, and it alone, had led to the human experiment, the final indisputable truth.”
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