Science Interviews


Sun, 11th May 2008

The Royal College of Pathologists at the Chelsea Flower Show

Dr Tim Wreghitt, Royal College of Pathologists

Part of the show Repelling Mosquitoes

Chris - James (Logan) was saying, luckily no diseases in England at the moment are spread by mosquitoes but that could change and that’s the thrust of what you’re doing at Chelsea this year.

Tim - Yes it is, it could change. We have the mosquitoes in this country which can transmit malaria. What we don’t have is a lot of malaria for the mosquitoes to transmit. But it could happen and it happened in 1918 when the people came back from the Great War from Thessalonica. There was quite a sizeable outbreak in Kent. In previous centuries there’d been outbreaks in the fens, East of England, Southern England so it could happen.

Chris - What are you trying to achieve with your stand? You’re putting a garden into the Chelsea Flower Show from the Royal College of Pathologists. What’s this aiming to achieve?

Tim - 2 things really. One is that we’re trying to tell people basically that the 2000 people that get malaria each year, travelling abroad to malarious areas, needn’t get it if they take proper precaution.

Chris - That’s people coming back to this country?

Tim - Yes, people coming back to this country. If they took proper precautions then they probably wouldn’t, well not very many of them would get infected. There are 20 people a year that die of malaria.

Chris - In the UK?

Cinchona pubescens - fruit (close-up)Tim - In the UK, yes and the second thing is that we’re trying to educate the people at the Chelsea Flower Show what plants are associated with malaria in terms of treatment.  The cinchona plant that you get quinine from.

Chris - Oh right, that’s where it comes from.

Tim -   The cinchona tree, in 1630 was where it was first discovered and the countess of Cinchon and all that stuff. Artemisia annua is a Chinese wormwood and that’s another plant that we grow to produce artemisin in. We’re also showing plants that can repel mosquitoes, James. Hopefully there won’t be many around.

Chris - I understand James is lending you some mosquitoes to show at Chelsea.

Tim - He is. He’s very kindly leant me some. I think there are some in water and some flipping around in a box. I hope the boxes are very securely fastened because I don’t want them flapping around me, thank you very much.


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