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Mosquito genomes key to evaluating malaria control 0

NAIROBI – Monitoring the genomes of population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes could be an effective method in determining the effectiveness of malaria control interventions, a study says.

According to researchers from Kenya, Tanzania and the United Kingdom, it is difficult, labour-intensive and expensive to measure the impact of interventions that aim to decrease the populations of disease-transmitting insects such as mosquitoes partly because of their abundance, seasonal changes and different collection methods.

Therefore, they used simulations to assess the decline of mosquito populations resulting from vector control interventions in Kilifi, Kenya and compared it to that of a similar malaria population in Tanzania, which had not been adequately controlled by interventions such as insecticide-treated bed nets.

Charles Mbogo, a co-author of the study and a public health entomologist at Kenya-based Kenya Medical Research Institute, tellsSciDev.Net that the main objective of the study was to describe the population genetics of Anopheles mosquitoes along the Kenyan coast and to demonstrate the effectiveness malaria control measures such as use of treated bed nets.

The researchers collected samples of malaria-causing mosquitoes —Anopheles gambiae, A. arabiensis and A. merus in Kilifi district, Kenya and two Tanzanian villages from 2008 to 2010. They analysed the genetic components of the mosquitoes and used simulations to estimate the decline in mosquito populations.

Based on their modelling study, the researchers estimate that a starting population of one million mosquitoes per square kilometres in Kilifi, where interventions to control the mosquitoes have been implemented, might have been reduced to just 30 mosquitoes per square kilometres.

“Measuring population genomic parameters in a small sample of individuals [mosquitoes]  before, during and after vector or pest control may be a valuable method of tracking the effectiveness of interventions,” the researchers note in the study published in the Malaria Journal last month (24 March).

Continue reading on Scidev.net

by SciDev Sub-Saharan Africa Desk

Photo Credits: Flickr/CDC

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