Skip to main content

A Fatal Bite

Investigating a Malaria Outbreak in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Obidimma Ezezika, Mona Jarrah, Shawanah Rahman

A Fatal Bite



In this case study, students follow “Mr. Okoro” as he makes the long journey with his sick daughter “Ada” to seek medical attention at the nearest clinic in Enugu, Nigeria. It is the rainy season, and “Dr. Fabian” from the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria has been called in to investigate a suspected outbreak of malaria. Students learn about the circumstances in Ada’s background that may have led to her illness, and then adopt the perspective of Dr. Fabian as she investigates the outbreak. They consider the epidemiological triangle, the different stages of the Plasmodium parasite lifecycle and how it leads to malaria, and evaluate the broader societal factors and future implications of malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. The case was designed for upper-level global health, public health, and human biology courses, but could also be adapted for general biology, health studies, infectious disease, and epidemiology courses.


Date Posted




  • Understand the transmission of the Plasmodium parasite.
  • Learn the different stages of the Plasmodium parasite lifecycle and how it leads to malaria.
  • Create and understand an epidemiological triangle of malaria.
  • Identify strategies to diagnose, treat, and reduce the risk of malaria.
  • Identify benefits and limitations of insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
  • Consider the evolution of multi-drug resistant forms of malaria.
  • Evaluate the relationship between the biological basis of malaria and social determinants that impact malaria transmission.
  • Explore how a piloted malaria vaccine works and its efficacy.
  • Consider the evolution of the P. knowlesi parasite and its ability to “jump the species barrier.”


Plasmodium; malaria; outbreak; Africa; parasite; mosquitoes; social determinants of health; epidemiology; rapid diagnostic test; RDT; malaria bed nets; infectious disease; P. falciparum; transmission; insecticide-treated bed nets;


Subject Headings

Biology (General)
Cell Biology
Medicine (General)
Molecular Biology
Public Health


High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate, Continuing education






Social issues






Analysis (Issues), Discussion



Asset 2