Asian malaria vector

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    In Context

    • A deadly malaria vector from Asia has recently been detected in Kenya which is likely to stifle Kenya’s massive progress in the fight against malaria.
      • Kenya is now the sixth and latest country in Africa to report an invasion of the deadly malaria species.

    Asian malaria vector- Anopheles Stephensi 

    • Origin:
      • Anopheles Stephensi originated in Southeast Asia, West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. 
    • Spread:
      • The species has been expanding its geographic range over the last decade, with detections in Africa first reported in Djibouti (2012), Ethiopia and Sudan (2016), Somalia (2019), and Nigeria (2020).
    • Characteristic features:
      • The species is reported to spread faster in different climatic conditions, especially in countries experiencing rapid urban development through devolution, like Kenya, with spiralling population growth rates in towns and concentration of malaria control programmes in rural areas.
      • It also poses a significant threat because, unlike other main malaria-causing mosquito vectors that primarily breed in rural areas, Anopheles Stephensi is highly adaptive and can thrive in urban environments. 
    • Risk & potential:
      • The deadly vector could also be silently wreaking havoc and killing people in other arid African jurisdictions, especially those with low or zero surveillance.
      • There is a risk of Anopheles Stephensi spreading further south and west from its original foci of detection in the Horn of Africa region.

    About Malaria

    • About:
      • It is a preventable and treatable disease that continues to have a devastating impact on the health and livelihood of people around the world. 
      • In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million new cases of malaria and 627,000 malaria-related deaths in 85 countries
      • More than two-thirds of deaths were among children under the age of 5 living in the WHO African Region.
    • Cause: 
      • It is a life threatening disease caused by plasmodium parasites.
    • Transmission: 
      • The parasites spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
      • In the human body, parasites initially multiply in liver cells and then attack the Red Blood Cells (RBCs).
      • There are 5 parasite species that cause Malaria in humans and 2 of these species (Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax) pose the greatest threat.
    • Distribution: 
      • It is predominantly found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, South America and Asia.
    • Symptoms: 
      • Fever and flu-like illness, including chills, headache, muscle ache and fatigue.
    • Prevention and Cure:
      • It is preventable as well as curable.
      • Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission.
      • Antimalarial medicines are used to prevent malaria e.g. Chemoprophylaxis, Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT).
    • Vaccine:
      • WHO has recommended the broad use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine for young children living in areas with moderate and high malaria transmission. 

    Source: DTE