A new species of mosquito has been implicated in spreading malaria in South Africa.
Two Anopheles vaneedeni females — from Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal — trapped by a team from the Wits Research Institute for Malaria were found to be carrying the parasite that causes the most dangerous form of the disease.
Nine scientists led by Ashley Burke said the discovery was a blow to South Africa’s hopes of eliminating malaria within its borders by 2018.
“(The mosquito) will readily feed on humans outdoors‚” they wrote in the journal Scientific Reports.
“The outdoor-resting and feeding traits of this species are reinforced by the fact that most of the… specimens collected… were found in outdoor-placed ceramic pots deployed at randomly selected households.”
Since the 1940s‚ anti-malaria efforts in the north-east of the country have been based on indoor spraying of long-lasting residual insecticides‚ such as DDT.
“Despite this‚ low-level residual malaria transmission continues and is likely caused by outdoor feeding and resting Anopheles mosquitoes that are unaffected by indoor applications of insecticide‚” say the scientists.
They used traditional ceramic pots‚ modified plastic buckets and window traps to catch the mosquitoes‚ joining an intensified effort to monitor the insects as the deadline for wiping out malaria nears.
The scientists said their discovery “highlights the need to intensify malaria vector control in South Africa by including methods designed to target outdoor feeding vector populations without compromising the efficacy of the (indoor spraying) programme”.
– TMG Digital/The Times