Learn your vectors

An editorial marking World Malaria Day in Nigeria’s Daily Trust exhorted readers as follows: “If only we can learn to clean our gutters, fumigate our drainage channels, evacuate our rubbish heaps and take other simple and sensible steps to eradicate or reduce the vector that causes malaria, we will not have cause to embark on the yearly ritual of lamenting about how we suffer so much from this public health challenge.”

While mosquitoes may breed in discarded cans and tires in rubbish heaps or in gutters in out cities, the likely culprits are Aedes species, which carry yellow and dengue fevers, and Culex species, which carry filariasis and a variety of viral diseases. Eliminating such breeding sites will certainly go a long way to promoting public health, but may not elimnate the breeding of the Anopheles species of mosquitoes that carry malaria.

For Anopheles mosquitoes the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “The larvae occur in a wide range of habitats but most species prefer clean, unpolluted water. Larvae of Anopheles mosquitoes have been found in fresh- or salt-water marshes, mangrove swamps, rice fields, grassy ditches, the edges of streams and rivers, and small, temporary rain pools.”  In contrast a study from Cameroon identified the following breeding sites for Aedes, many of which could be found in a refuse heap.:

Used tire, Plastic container, Can and broken bottle, Plastic cup, 200-L barrel, Abandoned car part, Cement washtub, Flowerpot, Tree hole, Cow horn, Cocoa pod, Enameled plate and Snail shell

slide1.JPGThe Press is an important Advocate in the fight to eliminate malaria, but it’s role is only as good as it’s access to scientifically sound information, which these days can be obtained on internet sites like those of WHO, RBM and CDC, but just as easily – a phone call to a local expert in the Ministry of Health or a local University.

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