Controlling malaria has been an issue for the African continent for the longest time now. There were many initiatives in place that were supposed to lower the infection rates, but few have been successful. Now, there is new information being released that reveals that the issue is even bigger than previously thought.
Scientists found female mosquitoes in traps that were flying over villages in Mali. The mosquitoes were found at altitudes between 40 and 300 meters above ground. At these altitudes, the winds may blow the insects very long distances. From the 3,000 mosquitoes caught over a three-year period, eighty percent were adult female mosquitoes, the exact life stage that has the ability to transmit malaria.
These new findings show that mosquitoes might have a bigger effect on Africa’s malaria death toll than previously thought. This is because the malaria dispersal distance of the mosquito had previously been considered to be much shorter.
Additionally, most of the mosquitoes discovered were already carrying eggs. And in order for the female mosquito to carry eggs, it needs to have a blood meal. It is during this blood meal that the insects contract the malaria virus. These insects and their eggs are problematic for areas where control programs are in place because these programs do not factor in these traveling insects when measuring their success rate.
An even more alarming fact is that out of all the mosquito species found in the traps, there was a large number of them belonging to the Anopheles coluzzii variant. This mosquito variant is considered to be one of the biggest malaria-spreading species on the African continent.
It is still unclear how much exactly do these insects contribute to the spread of malaria, so these findings need to be analyzed further. Scientists also need to determine whether these insects have the ability to create new breeding grounds.