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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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When mosquitoes have dinner

By Mbarwa Kivuyo – Tanzania

Once upon a time, malaria-transmitting mosquitoes did not have the habit of biting people during daytime.

The female Anopheles mosquitoes only did bite and infect human beings with malaria parasites at mid-night.

But recent studies into the behaviour of female anopheles mosquitoes suggest the pesky insects now feed outdoor during early hours of the evening.

For some reason, mosquitoes altered their ways to match human tendencies of spending leisure time outside before going under their insecticide treated bed nets.

Another way of looking at this is to consider the fact that hunger may have emboldened mosquitoes to throw caution to the winds and go after the usual lifeblood.

This new adaptation mechanism is important for the survival of mosquitoes because they do not bite to transmit malaria. The two genuine justifications for their action are to get their daily meal and, among the female Anopheles, to get proteins necessary to develop ovaries, eggs and sustain their regeneration.

When Bill Gates and his wife Melinda visited Tanzania mid last year, an entomologist at the Ifakara Health Institute in Dar es Salaam told them that “Mosquitoes are smart…we must be smarter.”

Prosper Chaki was referring to the changing feeding behaviour of the female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the species known to transmit malaria parasites.

Entomologist Chaki and his colleagues have studied the behaviour change of mosquitoes and realised that a lot remains to be learned about the tiny killers.

In the past, it was believed that female anopheles mosquitoes bred in clean water, but recent studies show that they breed in shallow sewage water.

Chaki said considering the nature of mosquitoes to develop resistance to chemicals used in control interventions, the best way to deal with them is by killing the mosquitoes at the larva stage. This, he said, will prevent the changing behaviour of mosquitoes and the threat of them developing resistance to insecticides.

Chaki said mosquitoes have a tendency of developing resistance to the chemicals found either in preventive or curative measures, especially when these chemicals are used extensively.

“We have seen resistance in anti-malarial drugs, for instance Chroloquine,” says Chaki. We must be ahead of mosquitoes so that we kill them before or during the larva stage.”

Many malaria control interventions are mostly insecticide-based. Bed nets are treated with chemicals, and even drugs are made out of chemical compounds.

Chaki says “larva source management has been in use in Tanzania for over 100 years.” To some extent, the approach was successful during the colonial regimes, from the German Tanganyika to the British Tanganyika when laws were effectively enforced.

This approach can still be successful under the current democratic leadership of Tanzania.

Referring to a study by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) in Dar es Salaam Chaki said “political commitment, community participation, provision of financial resources for initial cleaning and structural repairs, and inter-sectoral collaboration are necessary conditions if we want to see success.”

This is all important due to the behaviour change that mosquitoes now feed outdoor in the early evening when the victims are still outside the bed nets. Applying the principle of being “smarter” than mosquitoes, Sheila Ogoma did a study on how to deal with malaria-transmitting mosquitoes that are active before bed time.

She reports that “vapour phase spatial repellents deter mosquitoes from attacking one or more humans in a protected space.” According to Ogoma, mats are treated with repellents so that the users remain in an area free from mosquitoes.

Ogoma advises that the use of repellents to deter mosquitoes from biting humans should be taken as a complementary tool to contribute to the reduction of incidences of mosquito bites.

In her paper published recently by the Malaria Journal, Ogoma says that high coverage of spatial repellents can enhance the impact of long–lasting insecticide nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) where mosquitoes commonly bite humans outdoors.

So we must be smart. As the saying goes “a word to the wise is enough.”

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