Malaria is transmitted by female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. Photo: Krijn Paaijmans
It all starts with a single bite of an infected female mosquito that results in mild, acute or chronic illness and/or eventually to loss of a human life
Though tiny (slim with slender legs), with well-calculated pose while resting, accurate sense of odor for locating hosts and not to forget to mention, some species are extremely beautiful to look at and with no doubt could win the miss-insect contest in the insect world, mosquitoes are among the top tiniest and the topmost deadliest creatures on the planet. It all starts with a single bite of an infected female mosquito that results in mild, acute or chronic illness and/or eventually to loss of a human life.
Since their discovery as deadly creatures over a century ago, thanks to Ronald Ross, they have led to the loss of millions of lives
Since their discovery as deadly creatures over a century ago, thanks to Ronald Ross, they have led to the loss of millions of lives and several million others left with painful disfigured body parts. Additionally, the fight against these creatures in an attempt to save humanity results to loss of billions of USD annually, which would otherwise be channeled to improve the quality, livelihood and the well-being of impoverished societies had these creatures existed with us without doing us any harm.
Workers of the National Malaria Control Programme of Mozambique (NMCP).
Photo: Krijn Paaijmans
The fight against mosquitoes involves an extensive understanding of where they breed, when and at what time they feed, how they locate their hosts and where they rest
The fight against mosquitoes involves an extensive understanding of where they breed, when and at what time they feed, how they locate their hosts and where they rest just to mention a few, in order to design and direct the right control measures at the right time to achieve maximum protection to people. And moreover, as a result of several years of head scratching research by wonderful and brilliant scientists working day and night to end the diseases transmitted by these creatures, innovative and impactful anti-mosquito control measures have been developed.
The mosquito populations have reduced tremendously over the years
As a result, the mosquito populations have reduced tremendously over the years with consequent reductions in pathogens they transmit and several lives have been saved and improved. As such, the enormous achievements recorded to date, have rekindled the urge and the need to finalize the race of eliminating and eventually eradicating some pathogens (malaria) carried by mosquitoes through improved anti-mosquito measures.
Housing improvement is basic to fight against mosquito-transmitted diseases.
Photo: Celso Alafo.
As a young scientist coming from an endemic malaria area (Kenya) where these creatures cause enormous havoc, I am extremely delighted to be part of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health’s (ISGlobal) “Tropical disease research community” and together with the Manhica Health Research Centre (CISM) contribute to the fight against the diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
As part of the mosquito team, we contribute to this race by trying to understand human behavior gaps associated with anti-mosquito control tools used inside the houses, assess the feasibility of repurposing the very old-fashioned but very efficient tools such as larval control in large irrigation schemes, assess the impact of housing improvement with novel insecticide-treated mesh screens as well as novel tools of auto-dissemination of insecticides for larval control.
Training on larval sampling in Manhiça, Mozambique. Photo: Krijn Paaijmans
Saying goodbye to mosquito-transmitted diseases will require an extensive combined effort through multiple angles and disciplines
It will be needless to end this by not mentioning that saying goodbye to mosquito-transmitted diseases will require an extensive combined effort through multiple angles and disciplines, and this is what thousands of scientists, politicians, funders and communities from across the globe are aiming for. Together, we will continue to fight the bite!