New breed of mosquito “with potential to increase incidences of Malaria by 50%” found in Marsabit
MARSABIT—new, deadlier mosquito species that breeds all year in densely populated urban areas and has the potential to increase malaria incidences by more than 50% has been reported in the country.
The new mosquito poses a serious threat and has the potential to reverse recent advances in the fight against malaria. The malaria-causing mosquito Anopheles stephensi was previously known to occur and spread malaria in South-East Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula.
It has been expanding its Geographic range over the last decade, with detections reported in Djibouti (2012), Ethiopia and Sudan (2016), Somalia (2019), and Nigeria (2020).
The Kenya Medical Research Institute, KEMRI, has been conducting research on the mosquito known scientifically as Anopheles stephensi.
In December 2022, KEMRI participated in studies conducted across all counties in Kenya, which revealed that the new malaria-causing mosquito is present in Laisamis and Saku sub-counties in Marsabit County, Northern Kenya.
This was confirmed through laboratory assays on the vector’s identity. KEMRI and the Ministry of Health’s Division of National Malaria Programme (DNMP) have conducted routine mosquito surveillance in various counties through-out Kenya.
A sample of Anopheles mosquitoes was analyzed in the KEMRI laboratories to identify the species using the Anopheles stephensi protocol.
In one of the twelve counties examined, Marsabit County, the new mosquito was discovered. A total of 55 Anopheles larvae were collected for the detection at four different surveillance sites in Marsabit County, but 11 of them perished intransit. Seven of the 11 larvae were determined to be Anopheles stephensi.
Ina containment facility at KEMRI, 44 larvae were raised into adults and then killed, with four of them being sent to the CDC for confirmation testing. Nine Anopheles stephensi were found among the forty newly emerged adults that were tested.
Anopheles stephensi thrives in man-made containers and breeding habitats in polluted settings.The disease is transmitted through the infectious bite of the Anopheles female mosquito.
KEMRI continues to conduct routine entomological surveillance to determine theextent of vector distribution and mosquito infectivity rates.
KEMRI has called on the public to continue utilizing the available malaria control tools such as mosquito nets, repellants, and wearing long-sleeved clothing to prevent mosquito bites.