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Traditional phytotherapy of mosquito transmitted diseases in Central Spain
Mosquito transmitted diseases (especially Malaria and Kala-Azar) had a high prevalence among human populations inhabiting wetland areas of Central and SE Spain. The infectious agents are Protozoa species of Plasmodium and Leishmania donovani and L. infantum.
Main vectors are respectively Anopheles and sandfly (Phlebotomus pernicious, P. infanti). Prevention is based on the elimination of vectors by insecticides. Preventing bites is the most immediate form of protection. Insect repellent, appropriate clothing, screening of windows, and fine mesh netting around the bed will reduce exposure. There are no preventive vaccines or drugs for malaria or leishmaniasis. Dogs are an important reservoir for Leishmania, therefore veterinary control of affected animals is another important issue. Treatment uses quinine derivatives for malaria or antimony containing compounds and pentamidine for Leishmaniasis (Kala-Azar). Malaria was declared extinct in Spain before 1975, however Kala-Azar foci are in parts of Spain (Castilla La Mancha, Cataluña, Andalucía, Murcia).
Ethnobiological research has been conducted in this area in order to determine how the Traditional Knowlede System approached the prevention and treatment of these diseases. Semi-structured interviews were performed with elder persons in c. 30 localities in Cabañeros and Las Tablas de Daimiel National Parks, the Lagunas de Ruidera and Jucar, Segura, Tajo and Guadiana river basins.
Malaria is still known as “Calenturas“ in reason of the high fever seizure the patient. Specific treatment used teas of Hypericum ericoides (Guttiferae) or Centaurium spp. (Gentianaceae), or water of boiled lupine seeds (Lupinus albus L., Leguminosae). Over 30 different mosquito repellent and vegetal insecticides were recorded.