Lancaster to help research invasive malaria mosquito

Lancaster University is involved in a major research project which aims to control the spread of an invasive malaria mosquito in Sudan and Ethiopia.

According to the World Health Organisation, there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018.

The four year £3.5m project funded by the Wellcome Trust will investigate the origins and epidemiological importance of the invasive malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi in the Horn of Africa.

During the next four years Dr Luigi Sedda at Lancaster Medical School will contribute to the project with the sampling, analysis and mapping of the emergence, establishment and spread of An. stephensi in order to identify the dynamics and bionomics of the mosquito population and inform its control.

He said: “This project is timely, since the invasion of Anopheles stephensi is in large parts of the Horn of Africa. This malaria urban vector poses an unprecedent risk for any malaria control and eradication programme, since it is a high competent vector for both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax, the latter associated with frequent malaria relapses in the same individuals.”

The collaboration “Controlling emergent Anopheles stephensi in Ethiopia and Sudan-(CEASE)” brings together experts from Jimma University and Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia; University of Khartoum, Sudan; Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium; Imperial College London, Lancaster University and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine who are leading the project.

LSTM’s Professor Martin Donnelly, Head of the Vector Biology Department, said: “Historic examples, such as Anopheles arabiensis in Brazil, demonstrate that without prompt action, invasive species can become established with massive impacts morbidity and mortality.”

The collaboration will:

  • Describe the current distribution of the mosquito and routes of introduction using mosquito sampling, genetic ancestry analysis and spatial modelling.
  • Determine whether Anopheles stephensi is associated with increased malaria using health system data, prospective studies to identify malaria cases, and mathematical modelling.
  • Identify social and ecological factors which influence the distribution of Anopheles stephensi and define and trial the most appropriate mosquito control strategies.

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