Mosquito microbe stops the unfold of malaria, Kenyan research finds | Science | Intensive protection of Science and Expertise DW

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Our headlines may be dominated by the spread of the coronavirus, but malaria remains a leading cause of death in developing countries.

The World Health Organization reports that there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018, and most of those infections were in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more: EU urges restraint in using anti-malarial drugs to treat COVID-19

More than 400,000 people died during this time, most (67%) were children under the age of five. It has been said that the number of deaths from supply chain problems caused by the coronavirus could double this year.

Malaria is transmitted to humans and other animals by female Anopheles mosquitoes when they “bite” and feed on blood.

However, a new discovery of a microbe in Kenya could have the potential to limit this spread of malaria without causing much other havoc in the wider ecosystem. The microbe or beetle found in mosquitoes is believed to stop the transmission of malaria.

The researchers examined mosquitoes infected with the microbe Microsporidia MB and found that none of them carried the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for malaria. The researchers have published their results in the science journal Nature Communications.

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Malaria kills more than 400,000 people each year, mostly children under the age of five.

Scientists have been looking for naturally occurring microbes in mosquito populations to use to eradicate malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever.

Microsporidia MB is a unicellular beetle that lives in the intestines and genitals of a mosquito and produces spores there. It occurs in 5% of mosquitoes in a high-risk region around Lake Victoria in Kenya, where researchers have concentrated their work.

The researchers, who are biologists at the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, have suggested using mosquitoes infected with the microbe, or simply the spores it produces, as a natural remedy for malaria.

  • Infographic anopheles mosquito spreading english

    Spread of mosquito-borne diseases

    Distribution of the Anopheles mosquito – carrier of malaria

  • Infographic aedes mosquito spread dengue fever english

    Spread of mosquito-borne diseases

    Spread of dengue fever – caused by the Aedes mosquito

  • Infographic Culex mosquito spreading English

    Spread of mosquito-borne diseases

    Spread of Culex mosquitoes – carriers of the West Nile virus


One way to do this is to infect male mosquitoes with the beetle in laboratories and release them into the wild, where they, the males, would pass the beetles on to female mosquitoes when they breed.

The researchers say that at least 40% of a mosquito population in a given region must be infected with the microbe for the method to be effective or to significantly reduce the transmission of malaria to humans.

While other methods of combating the spread of malaria, such as B. Pesticides aimed to kill as many mosquitos as possible, a biological method can have less damaging effects on the surrounding ecosystem. The mosquitoes would live on as an integral part of the region’s natural food chain.

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  • White shark

    Sharks and scorpions? The deadliest animals in the world are not what you thought they were

    11. Sharks / wolves

    People were killed every year: around ten. Sharks and wolves frighten many people. And there is no doubt that wolves and some species of sharks can kill you. But very few of them actually do. Each year there are only about ten deaths worldwide from both species. You have a better chance of being killed by your toaster.

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    Sharks and scorpions? The deadliest animals in the world are not what you thought they were

    10. Lions / elephants

    People are killed every year: around 100. That you could be killed by a lion doesn’t seem far-fetched and it happens. Perhaps more surprisingly, your chances of falling victim to an elephant are just as high. The largest land animal in the world can be quite aggressive, and once it gets angry it certainly has the bulk and strength to be dangerous.

  • hippo

    Sharks and scorpions? The deadliest animals in the world are not what you thought they were

    9. Hippopotamus

    People are killed every year: around 500. Children’s toys in the shape of hippos exist and why shouldn’t there be? They look cute with their puffy snouts and stocky stature. And they are herbivores. But don’t let that fool you. They are territorial and quite aggressive and don’t need any provocation to come after you. So avoid it if you can.

  • crocodile

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    8. Crocodiles

    People are killed every year: around 1,000. Many people are probably just as afraid of crocodiles as they are of sharks or lions, and rightly so. Crocodiles are carnivores and kill prey, sometimes much larger than themselves, including small hippos, water buffalo, and in the case of saltwater crocodiles, even sharks.

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    7. Tapeworms

    People are killed every year: around the year 2000. Tapeworms are parasitic flatworms that live in the digestive tract of all types of vertebrates, from whales to mice to humans. They usually find their way into our bodies as eggs or larvae through contaminated food. The infection can be treated with medication, but the parasites still kill 200 times as many people as sharks.

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    6. Ascaris roundworms

    People are killed every year: around 2,500. Ascaris worms are another parasite that contracts in a manner similar to tapeworms. But they don’t stay in the intestinal tract. As soon as the eggs hatch, they burrow through the intestinal wall, travel to the lungs, up the windpipe, are coughed and swallowed again, to return to the intestines where they grow up. Ascariasis affects around 1 billion people worldwide.

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    5. Freshwater snail (schistosomiasis) / Assasin beetle (Chagas disease) / Tsetse fly (sleeping sickness)

    People were killed every year: around 10,000. In fifth place are three murderers, each with 10,000 deaths. To be fair, it’s not the animals that kill here, but the parasites that carry them. Schistosomiasis can be transmitted through contaminated water, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness through insect bites. So make sure you bring insect repellant with you when visiting affected areas.

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    4. Dog (rabies)

    People are killed every year: around 25,000. Rabies is a viral infection that can be transmitted by many different animals. In countries where dog rabies is common, 99 percent of the time it is transmitted by humans. And rabies is sneaky. Symptoms can take months to show and when they do the disease is almost always fatal. The good news is that both dogs and humans can be vaccinated.

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    3. Snakes

    People are killed every year: around 50,000. Yes: if in doubt, avoid queues. Many species aren’t deadly, some aren’t venomous at all, but there are enough deadly snakes to make these reptiles the third biggest killer in the world.

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    2. People

    People were killed every year: around 475,000. Yes, we made the list too. After all, we’re incredibly creative when it comes to finding ways to kill each other. This brings us the sad honor of second place among the murderers of man.

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    1. Mosquitoes

    People were killed every year: around 725,000. In countries like Germany they are just a nuisance, elsewhere they can be the harbingers of death. Again, it is the diseases that they carry, not the animals themselves, that kill. Malaria alone kills around 600,000 people each year. Dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis are also transmitted by mosquitoes, making the tiny insects the biggest killers in the world.


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