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Austrian orphans infected with malaria

Orphans under the care of the Austrian state in the 1950s and 1960s were infected with malaria as part of a set of experiments looking for a cure against syphilis, an expert commission has revealed.

The children in care were some of the 230 people who the commission believe were experimented on by being injected with the parasite that causes malaria in the period between 1951 and 1969.

The revelations have come about after an Austrian expert commission of historians investigated a state-run orphanage operating in that period. The investigation was started to look into accusations made by former wardens of the orphanage about the treatment of people at the institution.

At the time of the experiments, an effective treatment for syphilis had already been invented in the 1940s - penicillin. Previous to penicillin, infecting someone with malaria parasite had been a commonly used treatment, because the high fevers and prolonged fevers often cured rid the patient of syphilis.

But by the 1950s penicillin has replaced this as a less controversial treatment method, making case of treatment at the orphanage even more unusual.

The investigations carried out by the expert commission are ongoing and it has not been revealed whether anyone died as a result of these experiments.

Malaria is a disease normally passed on to humans through mosquitoes living at certain points above sea level and without treatment can often be fatal, particularly for children under 5-years-old.

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