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Herbs And Empires: A Brief, Animated History Of Malaria Drugs

What do Jesuit priests, gin and tonics, and ancient Chinese scrolls have in common? They all show up in our animated history of malaria.

It's a story of geopolitical struggles, traditional medicine, and above all, a war of escalation between scientists and a tiny parasite. Malaria has proved to be a wily foe: Every time we think we have it backed into a corner, it somehow escapes.

Over the next several days, NPR's Science Desk will be sharing stories about malaria. We'll hear about drug resistance cropping up on Thailand's border, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's antimalarial efforts here in the United States, and a woman who raises mosquitoes on her own blood.

But for now, take a look at our video (which is made entirely with historical photos and illustrations). You'll travel from inside the human body to 17th-century Peru to the battlefields of the Vietnam War — in under three minutes!

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An animation exploring the history of malaria drugs.

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