New malaria research

So much new and interesting malaria research has been coming out lately, I thought I’d post some as we approach World Malaria DayResearchBlogging.orgHere’s an assortment of research that shows how knowledge of basic mosquito biology and ecology can help control malaria.

First, a neat study that combines entomology and hydrogeology in Niger:

“efforts to control environmental factors –such as working to eliminate the low spots where pools of water collect during the rainy season, or applying locally grown plant materials to limit the growth of mosquitoes — can have a dramatic effect on controlling malaria’s spread. And unlike importing expensive medicines, such an approach can rely on local efforts as simple as having people with shovels fill in the low spots in the terrain.”

Sometimes the simplest tools are the best!  Because mosquitoes need a week or so of standing water to reach maturity (the bitey stage), getting rid of the water, or helping it drain faster, is a locally-controlled way to stop the mozzies.  You can read more about this work (with lovely photos and diagrams!) on their laboratory pages.

Unfortunately, that may not work everywhere–in Gambia, the production of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes is too widespread (and unpredictable) during the rainy season for prevention. In fact, rice fields seem to be the main locations of mosquito breeding–so cultural control of mosquitoes would devastate the local economy.

Fillinger, U., Sombroek, H., Majambere, S., van Loon, E., Takken, W., & Lindsay, S. (2009). Identifying the most productive breeding sites for malaria mosquitoes in The Gambia Malaria Journal, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-62

Other authors used knowledge of mosquito life cycle, in combination with remote sensing data for vegetation and rainfall, to try to predict when malaria would be a problem in Sudan.  Modeling to predict outbreaks has been done for centuries, but now we have new tools that allow new variables to be added in.

Gaudart, J., Toure, O., Dessay, N., Dicko, A., Ranque, S., Forest, L., Demongeot, J., & Doumbo, O. (2009). Modelling malaria incidence with environmental dependency in a locality of Sudanese savannah area, Mali Malaria Journal, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-61

That’s a quick look at some environmental research on malaria–later this week I’ll look at some new research on bednets.

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