Scientists have found a new species of mosquitoes resistant to bed nets treated with malaria insecticide in Mali. The discovery by scientists from the University of California,United States, is coming at a time when the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease has killed more than 7,000 people in West Africa. According to the World Health Organisation, malaria kills nearly one million people, mostly children, every year.
The organisation also posits that more than three million people- more than half of the world’s population- is at risk of malaria. In a study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said the new species were created by interbreeding between two mosquito species. The study also maintained that the development was an ‘evolutionary change caused by the introduction of the treated nets to the environment.’ The lead researcher, Gregory Lanzaro said the development was not surprising.
“Growing resistance has been observed for some time. Recently, it has reached a level at some localities in Africa where it is resulting in the failure of the nets to provide meaningful control and it is my opinion that this will increase,’’ he said.
A statement by the University on Monday, said the study, ‘provides convincing evidence indicating that a man-made change in the environment –the introduction of insecticide- has altered the revolutionary relationship between two species in this case, a breakdown in the reproductive isolation that separates them.’
A virologist with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Prof. Sunday Omilabu, who spoke to our correspondent on Tuesday, said the new species of mosquitoes would pose challenges to health systems. While admitting that scientists will need to control its spread, he said it was important for people to keep a clean environment.
“The control will be difficult. We have to study this species and destroy their lava. We have to act on their breeding methods because there is the possibility if transmitting viral diseases. We need to make sure that the environment is clean and do away with stagnant water where their eggs can hatch,’’ he said.