Malaria News Today 2020-09-21: Vectors, Cities and Chimpanzees

First we look at how disease can influence urban planning. We have four news stories focus on field activities for vector control from Hyderabad, India, Borno State, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and CHAD. Finally there is an ancestry article of sorts examining plasmodia in chimpanzees and humans. Click on the links to read full details.

Can Covid-19 inspire a new way of planning African cities?

Health crises are not new in Africa. The continent has grappled with infectious diseases on all levels, from local (such as malaria) to regional (Ebola) to global (Covid-19). The region has often carried a disproportionately high burden of global infectious outbreaks.
How cities are planned is critical for managing infectious diseases. Historically, many urban planning innovations emerged in response to health crises. The global cholera epidemic in the 1800s led to improved urban sanitation systems. Respiratory infections in overcrowded slums in Europe inspired modern housing regulations during the industrial era.

Urban planning in Africa during colonisation followed a similar pattern. In Anglophone Africa, cholera and bubonic plague outbreaks in Nairobi (Kenya) and Lagos (Nigeria) led to new urban planning strategies. These included slum clearance and urban infrastructure upgrades. Urban planning in French colonial Africa similarly focused on health and hygiene issues, but also safety and security.

Unfortunately regional experiences with cholera, malaria and even Ebola in African cities provide little evidence that they have triggered a new urban planning ethic that prioritises infectious outbreaks. Our recent research paper discusses three areas that can transform urban planning in the continent to prepare for future infectious outbreaks, using lessons from Covid-19.

The Coronavirus and other viruses like Ebola have always been ‘out there’ in nature.

But it’s only when we disrupt the natural habitats of the wild animals. Deadly viruses stay beneath the surface and need just one moment of triggering to emerge in the atmosphere and take the world by storm – historian Dr Mark Honigsbaum. The point is we cannot prevent all spillover events or predict precisely when or where the next one will happen. What we can do — and should do often — is invest in local laboratories and diagnostic services so that we can spot unusual outbreaks early and close them down quickly

We should note that Plasmidium Knowlesi is an example of a form of malaria from monkeys that arose because of urban expansion on forest habitats.

Hyderabad: People sensitised on mosquito breeding

As part of a novel initiative, every Sunday 10 am, 10 minute programme, the entomology wing of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation conducted awareness drive on mosquito breeding grounds at various places on Sunday. They explained the importance of cleanliness and the ways the mosquito breeding takes place in stagnated water. Speaking on the occasion, Banjara Hills Corporator Gadwal Vijayalaxmi called upon everyone not to allow accumulation of water in containers, utensils and surroundings.

Borno, WHO Administer Malaria Prevention Drug on 2.1m Children

WHO National Coordinator Malaria Emergencies in Nigeria, Dr. Iniabasi Nglas gave the figure during a four round Malaria Chemoprevention Campaigns (MPCs aka SMC) in 25 of the 27 local government areas of Borno State. During the advocacy, Nglas said the IDP camps “are given special attention for there is high threat of malaria infection due to the environment. Record has shown that the treatment has reduced malaria morbidity in the state.” She revealed that during the first cycle, 1.9 million children were targeted but due to high reception 2.1 million children were administered with the drug.

Rotary Against Malaria Distributes Nets in PNG

ROTARY Against Malaria has finally completed its distribution of bed net mosquito nets throughout the Eastern Highlands Province (EHP) after three months. Team leader of Rotary Against Malaria in the province, Helmut Magino, during a ceremony in Goroka, acknowledged his working staff, the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority, district health officers, logistic company Mapai Transport, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL)
and the communities in Papua New Guinea.

“Without these partners, our work in distributing mosquito nets wouldn’t have been successful,” Mr Magino said. “Mapai Transport assisted with vehicles to travel to the remote parts in Okapa, Henganofi and Lufa. “SIL assisted with distribution via airplane to remote parts which are not connected by road like in Obura-Wonenara district.” The volunteer-run organisation funded by Global Fund, a US-based organisation, distributed 145,900 mosquito nets in the province. “We distributed around 45,000 nets to Okapa and Lufa, 35,000 to Obura-Wonenara and 66,900 to rural areas in Goroka district. “We will visit EHP again next year to distribute nets …”

Donating Emergency IRS Supplies to CHAD

Last week, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a Hercules military transport aircraft took off from an Israeli military base in the south, filled to capacity with items donated by Israeli Flying Aid IFA and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) — 2,000 six-person tents, personal protection equipment (PPE) for medical teams, backpack sprayers to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitos, and more.

Why humans can run marathons and apes cannot (implication for plasmodium species)

Chimpanzees share more than 99 percent of their genes with modern humans, but the CMAH gene is one of the areas of difference. Two to three million years ago, gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates were dying from a type of malaria called Plasmodium reichenowi (Science, 2011;331:540-542). At that time, all primates had a surface protein called Neu5Gc on their cells that was made from Neu5Ac. Then along came a primate with a gene that had lost its ability to make Neu5Gc from Neu5Ac, so it had only Neu5Ac (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, Sept 6, 2005;102(36):12819-12824).

That pre-human did not die from malaria like other primates, his and her children lived and proliferated, and today their descendants (all humans) have a gene that makes Neu5Ac instead of Neu5Gc. As often happens in nature, the malaria parasite then modified its genetic makeup into a variant called Plasmodium falciparum which can infect humans, but not chimpanzees, so today humans can be infected only with Plasmodium falciparum and chimpanzees can be infected only with Plasmodium reichenowi. This same genetic mutation gave homo sapiens greater endurance so they were able to run long distances while the apes could not, which gave humans an advantage in hunting for food (J Hum Evol, 2014;66:64-82).

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