July 13, 2024
Has Malaria Really Killed Half of Everyone Who Ever Lived?
Adding these devastating statistics together almost unequivocably places mosquitoes as the leading killer of human beings all time.
Adding these devastating statistics together almost unequivocably places mosquitoes as the leading killer of human beings of all time.

Across Earth’s history, our planet has been home to an estimated 109 billion human beings. And according to another oft-repeated factoid, half of all the people who have ever existed were killed by malaria, the worst mosquito-borne illness. Mosquitoes aren’t merely annoyances, they are mass murderers.

But is this actually true?

There’s little doubt that these hellacious insects are prodigious killers of humankind. The bloodsuckers spread all sorts of diseases – West Nile Virus, various kinds of Encephalitis, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, and Zika Virus, for example. However, the damage wrought by all of these diseases is piddling in comparison to malaria. Causing fever, tiredness, vomiting, headaches, and seizures, it struck 216 million people in 2016 alone, resulting in between 445,000 to 731,000 deaths. Believe it or not, that’s an improvement over past years. In 2000, there were 262 million cases, resulting in at least 839,000 deaths.

Adding these devastating statistics together almost unequivocably places mosquitoes as the leading killer of human beings all time. But a historical death toll of roughly 54 billion – half of all humans ever? That seems a tad hard to believe, especially considering that malaria is presently responsible for perhaps 1% of all deaths worldwide each year.

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