New malaria mosquito is emerging in African cities

January 27, 2021

Larvae of a new malaria mosquito species are abundantly present in water containers in cities in Ethiopia. The mosquito, Anopheles stephensi, is the main malaria mosquito in India but only appeared on the African continent a few years ago. It has now been found in cities and towns in urban settings in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Djibouti. Researchers from the Radboud university medical center and the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia showed that the invading mosquito species is highly susceptible to local malaria strains. Malaria can therefore become an increasing problem for urban areas in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa.

In Africa, malaria is traditionally been a rural disease with towns and cities associated with much lower levels or absence of malaria. This is due to the fact that most African malaria mosquitoes breed in rural areas. However, the introduction of Anopheles stephensi may increase the malaria risk for urban populations. Over recent years there have been increasing reports of the Asian mosquito species Anopheles stephensi in the Horn of Africa. Anopheles stephensi can reproduce particularly well in man-made containers with clean water. This makes Anopheles stephensi a notorious mosquito species for urban malaria

The Asian mosquito appears to be particularly susceptible to African malaria

A mosquito species only poses a health risk if it can spread local malaria parasites. "That is why we performed mosquito feeding experiments with the blood of Ethiopian malaria patients. This allowed us to determine whether the local malaria parasite can develop in the new mosquito," explains Professor of Epidemiology of Tropical Infectious Diseases Teun Bousema of Radboud university medical center in Nijmegen. "To our surprise, the Asian mosquito turned out to be even more susceptible to local malaria parasites than our Ethiopian mosquito colony. This mosquito appears to be an extremely efficient spreader of the two main species of malaria".

With this important puzzle piece, concerns about urban malaria in Africa are increasing. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) already sounded the alarm about the possible consequences of the invasion of Anopheles stephensi in Africa. With this new findings, these concerns seem justified. "An aggressive approach to target this mosquito is now a top priority," concludes dr. Fitsam Tadesse. "Only if we act quickly can we prevent the spread to other urban areas on the continent. We must target the mosquito larvae in places where they now occur and prevent mosquitoes from spreading over long distances, for example via airports and sea ports. If that fails, the risk of urban malaria will rise in large parts of Africa."

About malaria

With approximately 216 million cases and 400,000 deaths per year, malaria is one of the most important infectious diseases of our time. Compared to the situation before the year 2000, there is a clear decrease in the number of sick people, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Unfortunately, malaria now seems to be on the rise in several areas where it was previously under control. Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the main types of malaria for humans. They are transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and vice versa. There are about 60 mosquito species that can transmit human malaria. In Africa, a number of mosquito species are traditionally responsible for the most malaria transmission. Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes have been labeled the most dangerous animal species on earth and are especially common in rural settings in Africa. Spraying with Insecticides and the use of impregnated mosquito netting against mosquitoes are among the most effective ways to combat malaria. Since 2015, a vaccine has been registered for use. This vaccine, Mosquirix, offers some protection against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the deadliest form of malaria. Preventing the spread of malaria is considered one of the greatest challenges in the fight against malaria.

Radboud University Medical Center

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the UmeƄ University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to