Scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) headquartered in Nairobi, announced that they had discovered a microbe that could potentially prevent mosquitoes from infecting people with malaria.
The basis of the microbe, malaria-blocking bug, is aligned to a perspective that by protecting mosquitoes from infection, individuals would be protected too.
The study conducted primarily on the shores of Lake Victoria found that 5% of mosquitoes carried the microbe (Microsporidia MB) in their gut and genitals that protected them from being infected with Malaria.
“The data we have so far suggest it is 100% blockage, it’s a very severe blockage of malaria.
“It will come as quite a surprise. I think people will find that a real big breakthrough,” Dr Jeremy Herren, from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya stated.
To stop the spread of Malaria using this new development, 40% of mosquitoes need to be infected with the microbe.
This can be done through infecting male mosquitoes which would infect female anopheles mosquitoes through sex. The female mosquitoes act as malaria vectors. Another way would be to release the spores from Microsporidia to infect mosquitoes.
Scientists are now analysing the possibility of releasing the mosquitoes into the wild or using spores to curb the disease after more tests have been conducted.
Malaria accounts for an estimated 16% of outpatient consultations in Kenya. Approximately 70% of the population is at risk of contracting malaria, with 14 million people in endemic areas, and another 17 million in areas of the epidemic and seasonal malaria (rainfall areas).
More than four million cases of malaria are reported annually in Kenya. A 5.1% mortality rate has been reported among patients admitted with severe malaria, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
On Saturday, April 25, as Kenya marked the world malaria day, President Uhuru Kenyatta, stated that the government had been able to significantly lower Malaria prevalence from a high of 6 million infections to 4.6 million over the last ten years.
“This progress is largely a result of support and cooperation between the government, development partners and our frontline health providers such as doctors, nurses and other cadres of our gallant medical personnel.
“While we are very proud of the progress we are making in dealing with the malaria challenge, we are aware that as a continent, we still have a long way to achieving our target of wiping out the disease by the year 2030,” Kenyatta stated.