Malaria News Today 2020-10-02/03

Recent news and abstracts include mosquito control using solar disruption of of larval habitats and plants that repel the insects around homes. The challenges of malaria related anemia in pregnancy is discussed. Malaria cases increase in Mali and Mozambique, but in the latter, deaths actually decrease. Malaria parasites have ways of making people more attractive to mosquito bites. Finally covid-19 has not disrupted malaria work as much as anticipated. Read more at the links in the sections below.

Improved Mosquito Control with Solar Power Machine that Causes Ripple Effect

Kristina Panos writes that mosquito haters of the world, rejoice! A few years ago we told you about the first version of this solar-powered mosquito repellent that works by disturbing the surface of standing water. Since then, the project has received worldwide attention, and [Pranav] is back with Solar Scare Mosquito version 2.0 in time for the the 2020 Hackaday Prize.

The idea’s still the same as before: let mosquitoes lay their eggs in the standing waters of tanks and swamps, then disturb the water with vibrations so the larvae on the surface can’t breathe. As smart as this simple idea is, version 2.0 is even smarter. It has a microphone that listens to the wing-beat frequencies of mosquitoes that like to hang around places like that. Inside there’s an Arduino MKR GSM to run the ripple-generating air pump, detect water from the sensor, and gather data from the microphone.

With a network of these devices all reporting data, [Pranav] envisions an early warning system for mosquito-borne epidemics that works by alerting the locals through their phones. Solar Scare Mosquito has come a long way since 2014.

Malaria cases spike in northern Mali

Malaria cases in northern Mali have spiked, according to medical workers, claiming 23 lives in the often lawless desert region last week alone. Mali’s ministry of health said this week that 59 people have died of malaria in the north since the start of the year, almost double the number of deaths over the same period last year.

Already struggling to curb coronavirus, the poor Sahel country is also fighting a brutal jihadist insurgency active in the north and centre of the country.

A powerful attractant: Malaria parasites lure blood-sucking mosquitoes

The malaria parasite’s gametocyte-stage has been demonstrated in the field to heavily manipulate the blood-seeking behaviour of vector mosquitoes through increasing the appeal of biting an infected host.

Plasmodium parasites, the causative agents of Malaria in humans and animals, are well known for manipulating both their human and mosquito hosts as a way of maximising the probability of interactions between them, thereby increasing the chance malaria parasites are transmitted from host to host. One way in which these devious parasites have been shown to increase the probability of host interaction is during their transmissible (gametocyte) stage.

This is achieved by inducing host red blood cells to produce volatile compounds that attract malarial vector species, such as mosquitos in the Anopheles family. The increase in production of volatile compounds, such as certain aldehydes and terpenes, by host red blood cells was shown back in 2017 to be specifically induced by a gametocyte-produced molecule called (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate, also known as HMBPP.

Malaria campaigns fight off Covid disruptions to deliver programmes

Almost all planned work against the disease has gone ahead this year, delivering nets, drugs and the world’s first malaria vaccine. More than 90% of anti-malaria campaigns planned this year across four continents are on track, despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

The delivery of insecticide-treated nets and provision of antimalarial medicines in the majority of malaria-affected countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas were still going ahead, a high-level meeting organised by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria heard on Thursday.

Malaria associated with increased prevalence of anemia during pregnancy

Ken Downey Jr. and colleagues conducted a study in seven sub-Saharan African countries demonstrated an association between malaria and an increased prevalence of anemia among pregnant women, according to findings published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

“Pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa suffer a double burden of malaria and HIV infections, and these infections interact with each other to cause anemia,” Ssentongo told Healio. “If not treated, the risk of the mother and the unborn baby dying is high. Multipronged strategies to prevent and treat malaria in HIV pregnant women are critical to ensure the survival of the mothers and their unborn babies.”Paddy Ssentongo, MD, MPH, a research assistant professor at Penn State University,

Mozambique: Malaria Cases Increase, Malaria Death Toll Declines

From January to August, 442 people in Mozambique are known to have died from malaria, according to Health Minister Armindo Tiago. Speaking at the launch of a National Home Spraying Campaign, Tiago said the malaria death toll, in the first eight months of the year, was significantly lower than that recorded in the same period in 2019, when 562 people died of the disease.

But although fewer people are dying of malaria, the number of malaria cases has actually increased – from 7.86 million cases in January-August 2019 to 8.36 million in the same months this year. The number of cases rose by 6.4 per cent, but the number of deaths fell by 21.4 per cent. Thus there is the drive to persuade families to change their behaviour.

The Plants That Keep Mosquitoes Away

Protect outdoor areas from mosquitoes and bugs to enjoy evenings outside. Including the following plants in a home garden can provide homeowners with some important weapons in the war against mosquitoes.

1. Citronella Plants: You may already be familiar with citronella plants, as they are known for emitting a strong smell that mosquitoes find objectionable. This group of plants contain citronellal, the active ingredient commonly found in mosquito repellents like citronella patio candles or sprays.

2. The Mint Family: Some members of the mint family have the power to repel mosquitoes, or at least take the sting out of their bites. Check Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Basil, Lavender, Sage, and Catnip.

3. Flowers: Believe it or not, ornamental plants can actually do double duty and function as mosquito repellents. Even better, these plants love sun and are drought resistant. Marigolds, and their relative, tarragoncontain pyrethrum, an ingredient found in many insect repellents. Verbena is a lemon-scented, easy-to-grow perennial. Citrosum is also named “the mosquito plant,” and is one of the best plants in the game for repelling mosquitoes.

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