The Kenya Medical and Research Institute (KEMRI) has warned that gains made by the country in fighting malaria might soon be reversed after a new species of mosquito, which spreads the disease was discovered in the country.
The species – Anopheles Stephensi was discovered in Laisamis and Saku sub-counties in Marsabit by researchers at the KEMRI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s Division of National Malaria Programme (DNMP).
In a statement, KEMRI noted that the species, which spreads fast, was discovered during a routine mosquito surveillance.
“Kemri and the Ministry of Health have put in place efforts in research activities in Laisamis and Saku Sub counties of Marsabit County where the anopheles stephansi vector samples were first detected and confirmed through laboratory essays at Kemri,” reads a section of a report by Kemri.
The new mosquito variant, Anopheles Stephensi, has been reported in other African countries including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria.
Kenya becomes the sixth country on the African continent to have the invasion of the species.
According to Scientists, the invasive mosquito species was likely responsible for a large malaria outbreak in Ethiopia earlier this year.
It’s believed that new malaria species can thrive in urban areas as well.
More than four million cases of malaria are reported annually in Kenya and a 5.1% mortality rate according to statistics by the Ministry of Health. Those living in western Kenya have often been reported to be more at high risk.
Plasmodium falciparum is the species most frequently associated with severe malaria and accounts for 80-90% of cases in Kenya. P. malariae, P. ovale, and P. vivax variants also exist in the country.
Vector control is one of the interventions used in Kenya use to control malaria. This includes:
- Evaluating the durability of different types of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets against malaria vectors (anopheline mosquitoes)
- Evaluating the efficacy of a new attractive targeted sugar bait (ATSB)
- Evaluating the efficacy of a novel host decoy trap for vector surveillance and for transmission reduction
- Evaluating the efficacy of spatial repellents for malaria transmission reduction