Malaria is a horrific disease caused by Plasmodium falciparum which enters the blood stream through an Anopheles mosquito bite, and applies its damage by making red blood cells stick to each other and to the walls of blood vessels. P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) which causes the RBCs to clump and obstruct blood flow could be removed using certain enzymes.
However, the clumps reduced in some blood types while stayed in others. For instance, blood O group had decreased formation of blood clumps called rosettes while blood A group was unaffected much. This lead the researchers studying this phenomenon to look for something other than PfEMP1 that lead to the clumping of group A blood cells.
Studies demonstrated that another protein, RIFINs, secreted by the parasite particularly affected blood group A causing it to clump and cause malaria’s horrific effects that results in tissue damage. However, this effect with RIFINs is not noticed in blood group O because the blood group A accounts to up to 70% of this protein effect.
The studies also showed new knowledge about RIFINs and state that about 150 rif genes carry the genetic information for them to develop around blood group A.
Due to the difference in the severity of malaria in different blood types, areas where malaria spread show increased number of people with blood group O. Whatever your blood group is, you should take all the proper measurements to avoid catching a disease as deadly as malaria. Prevention measures include using Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs).