A new Malaria mosquito is emerging in African cities, with potentially devastating consequences for those living there, a study has found.
The larvae of Anopheles stephensi, India’s main mosquito are now “abundantly present” in locations across Africa, researchers from The Netherlands’ Radboud University Medical Center and Ethiopia’s Armauer Hansen Research Institute said.
The Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious pathogens between humans, or from animals to people.
This mosquito species only appeared in Africa a few years ago. Now, this invasive insect is “abundantly present” in water containers in cities in Ethiopia
Most African mosquitoes that can transmit malaria are known to breed in rural areas. However, experts were already concerned this particular mosquito has found a foothold in urban areas, including cities in Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti, which researchers said could increase the malaria risk for urban populations.
Malaria, which is transmitted through the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes, is both a preventable and treatable disease, but still 409,000 people died of it in 2019.
The African region was home to 94% of all malaria cases and deaths in 2019, according to the World Health Organization.
“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,” said Teun Bousema, professor of epidemiology of tropical infectious diseases at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, in a statement.
Researchers warned that swift action must be taken to stop the spread of the mosquitoes to other urban areas on the African continent in a study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Dr Fitsum Tadesse at Addis Ababa University said that the species need to be targeted with “an aggressive approach”.
“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.”