Malaria has existed in Greece since prehistoric times. Its prevalence fluctuated depending on climatic, socioeconomic and political changes. The book focuses on the factors that contributed to the spreading of the disease in the years between independent statehood in 1830 and the elimination of malaria in the 1970s.
By the nineteenth century, Greece was the most malarious country in Europe and the one most heavily infected with its lethal form, falciparum malaria. Owing to pressures on the environment from economic development, agrarian colonization and heightened mobility, the situation became so serious that malaria became a routine part of everyday life for practically all Greek families, further exacerbated by wars. The country’s highly fragmented geography and its variable rainfall distribution created an environment that was ideal for sustaining and spreading of diseases, which, in turn, affected the tolerance of the population to malaria. In their struggle with physical suffering and death, the Greeks developed a culture of avid quinine consumption and were likewise eager to embrace the DDT spraying campaign of the immediate post WW II years, which, overall, had a positive demographic effect.