The word malaria, in fact, comes from mala aria meaning bad air in Medieval Italian and is first found in a publication of 1476. (It was coined before the mosquito was identified as the source.)
In what is believed to be the only recorded incident of biological warfare in Europe during the Second World War, in 1943 in order to halt the advance of Allied troops and to punish the Italians whom they saw as traitors, the German army flooded the Pontine marshes which lay on the path to Rome and introduced there millions of larvae of a malaria carrying mosquito. Allied soldiers were, however, given anti-malarial drugs and there was no real military effect.
However, amongst the local population there was a major problem. In 1943 there were just over 1,200 cases in the area amongst civilians. In 1944 that had risen to 55,000.
At the end of World War II malaria was present in many regions of the country, mostly the central and southern regions and islands, especially Sardinia. In 1947 the country launched a major campaign to eradicate the disease (mostly with DDT) which was very successful and although there were occcasional sporadic outbreaks, the WHO declared the country free of malaria in 1970.
However, in 1997 a single case was reported in rural Grosseto and there is growing concern that malaria may return to the country.
- 81 - Emperor Titus
- 983 - Otto I
- 999 - Pope Gregory V
- 1048 - Pope Damasus II
- 1321 - Dante
- 1521 - Pope Leo X
- 1590 - Pope Sixtus V
- 1590 - Pope Urban VII
- 1610 - Caravaggio; possible cause
- 1906, Giovanni Antonio Giuseppe Fedele Guglielmi (Rudolph Valentino's father)
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