Malaria vectors in southern Ethiopia. Some challenges and opportunities for vector control
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Background: Malaria is a public health problem in Ethiopia, where more than 60% of the population lives in risky areas. Since 2005, malaria-related sicknesses and deaths have substantially decreased in the country, mainly due to the increasing coverage of vector control interventions and chemotherapy. On the other hand, resistance to most public health insecticides is widely spreading among the populations of the principal malaria vector Anopheles arabiensis. Therefore, assessing the susceptibility status of local malaria vectors is an essential activity to improve the effectiveness of the interventions, by introducing the appropriate insecticide resistance management strategies. There are also substantial gaps in knowledge regarding the entomological inoculation rate (EIR), which is an indicator of the intensity of malaria transmission, and are used to assess the impact of vector control interventions. Understanding the species composition, feeding and resting behaviours, parity rate, as well as human biting and sporozoite rates, are all important in evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and planning for supplementary vector control tools. Moreover, improving housing, such as screen doors and windows, and closing openings on walls and eaves, might reduce the entry of malaria vectors and provide protection from infectious bites of malaria vectors.
Objective: The study was carried out to help assess the species composition, age structure, feeding patterns, sporozoite infection rate, entomological inoculation rate and insecticide susceptibility status of An. arabiensis, and evaluate the impact of screened houses on its indoor density.
Methods: The study was done in the Chano Mille Kebele in southwestern Ethiopia. The longitudinal entomological study was conducted from May 2009-April 2010, whereas the house screening intervention was done between April-November 2011. Thirty houses (10 houses for each collection method) were randomly selected for biweekly Anopheles mosquito sampling. The Anopheles mosquitoes were collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) light traps, pyrethrum spray catches (PSC) and from artificial pit shelters by aspirating. Enzyme-linked-immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to analyse the blood meal origins and circumsporozoite proteins. The EIR of P. falciparum and P. vivax of An. arabiensis was calculated by multiplying the sporozoite and human biting rates from CDC light traps and PSC collections.
A randomized control trial was conducted to assess the impact of screening windows and doors with wire mesh, and closing openings on eaves and walls by mud on the indoor density of An. arabiensis. Baseline mosquito data was gathered biweekly from 40 houses by CDC light traps in March and April 2011 to randomize houses into both control and intervention groups. The windows and doors of 20 houses were screened by mosquito-proof wire mesh, and openings on the walls and eaves were closed by mud. The rest of the 20 houses were assigned to the control group. Mosquitoes were collected biweekly in October and November 2011 from both the control and intervention houses.
Results: Anopheles species, comprised of An. arabiensis, An. marshalli, An. garnhami, An. funestus group, An. pharoensis, An. tenebrosus, An. rhodensiensis, An. flavicosta, An. longipalpis, An. daniculicus, An. pretoriensis, An. chrysti, An. moucheti, An. distinctus and An. zeimanni, were documented in the area. Anopheles arabiensis was by far the most dominant species.
The overall human blood index (HBI) of An. arabiensis, including the mixed blood meals, was 44%, whereas the bovine blood index (BBI), including mixed blood meals, was 69%. The majority of An. arabiensis (65%) from the indoor-resting collection had bovine blood meal, which was unexpected. The higher proportion (75%) of indoor host-seeking An. arabiensis collected by CDC light traps had contact with humans. Only 13% An. arabiensis from pit shelters had human blood meal, while 68% had bovine blood meal. Anopheles arabiensis showed a consistently higher feeding pattern on cattle than on humans, regardless of collection sites and the high number of the human population. The human and bovine feeding patterns of An. arabiensis showed little change due to the number of cattle to human ratio of each household. Anopheles marshalli and An. garnhami showed similar feeding patterns.
Anopheles arabiensis was highly resistant to four pyrethroid insecticides tested (lambdacyhalothrin, cyfluthrin, alphacypermethrin and deltamethrin) and DDT, with a maximum mortality rate of 56% due to lambdacyhalothrin and a minimum of 10% due to DDT.
The circumsporozoite protein ELISA test revealed 11 P. falciparum infections out of 14 sporozoite positive An. arabiensis (the other three were P. vivax), thereby confirming that this species is the principal vector of P. falciparum and P. vivax parasites. The P. falciparum sporozoite rate of An. arabiensis was 0.32% for CDC light traps, 0.28% for pit shelters and 0.23% for PSCs. The overall estimated annual P. falciparum EIR of An. arabiensis from CDC light traps was 17.1 infectious bites/person/year (ib/p/y), but it varied between houses, from a 0 EIR in 60% of houses to 73.2 in a house close to the major breeding site. Hence, those houses nearest to the mosquito breeding sites had a higher risk of exposure to infectious bites. The P. falciparum EIR of An. arabiensis was 2.4 in the dry season and 14.7 in the wet season, indicating 6.1-fold more infectious bites in the wet- than in the dry season. The P. falciparum and P. vivax EIR of An. arabiensis from PSC was 0.1ib/p/y, while the P. vivax EIR of An. arabiensis from CDC light traps was 2.41ib/p/y.
The screening of doors and windows with wire mesh, and closing the openings on eaves and walls by mud, significantly reduced the indoor density of host-seeking An. arabiensis by 40%. The intervention was cheap, and can be incorporated into malaria vector control programmes by local communities.
Conclusion: Anopheles arabiensis showed a consistently higher feeding pattern on cattle than on humans regardless of collection sites and the high number of human population. It was the most abundant and the principal vector of P. falciparum and P. vivax, while An. marshalli and An. garnhami were the second and third most abundant species, but neither of them was positive for CSPs. The transmission of malaria is heterogeneous; those houses nearest to the mosquito breeding sites (hot spots) had a higher risk of exposure to the infectious bites of An. arabiensis. Anopheles arabiensis was resistant to pyrethroid insecticides, the only class of insecticides recommended for LLINs treatment; as a result, there should be an action programme to manage insecticide resistance. Finally, supplementary methods of vector control, such as the screening of houses, could be included to help improve malaria control in the area based on the principle of integrated vector management.