Lancaster College to combat the unfold of the invasive malaria mosquito

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Lancaster University is involved in a major research project aimed at controlling the spread of an invasive malaria mosquito in Sudan and Ethiopia. According to the World Health Organization, there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018.

The £ 3.5million Wellcome Trust funded four-year project will investigate the origins and epidemiological significance of the invasive malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi in the Horn of Africa.

Over the next four years, Dr. Luigi Sedda from Lancaster Medical School will contribute to the project with the sampling, analysis and mapping of the origin, establishment and spread of An. stephensi to identify the dynamics and bionomics of the mosquito population and to inform their control.

This project is timely as the Anopheles stephensi invasion is taking place in much of the Horn of Africa. This urban malaria vector poses an unprecedented risk to any malaria control and eradication program as it is a highly competent vector for both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax, the latter being associated with frequent malaria relapses in the same people. “

Dr. Luigi Sedda, Lancaster Medical School

The cooperation “Control of the aspiring Anopheles stephensi in Ethiopia and Sudan (CEASE)” brings together experts from Jimma University and the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia. University of Khartoum, Sudan; Institute for Tropical Medicine, Belgium; Imperial College London, Lancaster University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are leading the project.

LSTM Professor Martin Donnelly, Head of the Department of Vector Biology, said: “Historical examples such as Anopheles arabiensis in Brazil show that invasive species can establish themselves without immediate action with massive effects on morbidity and mortality.”

The cooperation will:

  • Describe the current distribution of the mosquito and the routes of introduction using mosquito samples, genetic origin analysis and spatial modeling.
  • Use health system data, prospective studies to identify cases of malaria, and mathematical modeling to determine whether Anopheles stephensi is associated with increased malaria.
  • Identify social and environmental factors influencing the spread of Anopheles stephensi and define and test the most appropriate mosquito control strategies.

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