A new mosquito species capable of transmitting malaria, first discovered in the Eastern African country of Djibouti in 2012, has been detected in Kenya, researchers in the East African country have confirmed.
The new carrier mosquito, named the Anopheles stephensi, can live in different climates while transmitting plasmodium vivax, the parasite that causes the deadliest type of malaria.
This week, Kenya’s Medical Research Institute(KMRI) urged people in the country to use mosquito nets and destroy any potential area where the mosquito, already in South Sudan, Ethiopia and some Asian countries, can breed.
Bernhards Ogutu, the KMRI chief researcher, said it only took a matter of time before the new malaria carrier was discovered in Kenya after the mosquito appeared in neighbouring countries.
“We’ve not been able to pick plasmodium vivax, which is found in Asia and Kenya. It’s there in Ethiopia, and this vector can also transmit it,” said Mr Ogutu.
The KMRI chief researcher added, “So that will also look at whether we might have plasmodium vivax in coming up with this new vector showing in our place. Vivax is more difficult to treat in that you can get treated and real up because it keeps staying in the body and the liver.”
According to the World Health Organisation, around 250,000 children die from malaria infection each year, with more than 10,000 in Kenya alone, as the latest discovery threatens the progress in fighting mosquito-borne parasites in the country.