News / Health

    Wind Offers Clue to Curbing Malaria

    Study: targeting larval pools downwind from malaria hotspots could help control disease

    Malaria is transmitted among humans by female Anopheles mosquitoes like this one.
    Malaria is transmitted among humans by female Anopheles mosquitoes like this one.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rosanne Skirble

    A new malaria prevention strategy might literally be blowing in the wind.

    A team of scientists studying the patterns of malaria infection in rural Kenyan villages noticed that, despite a gradual reduction of malaria cases in the region, “hotspots” persisted.



    The blood-sucking mosquitos that transmit the malaria parasite to humans breed in water.

    So the researchers decided to examine the location of those breeding ponds in relation to the most infected villages. Their findings are published this week in Nature Communications.

    Co-author David Smith, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, says a curious pattern emerged.

    “In this study what we did is we looked at the locations of aquatic habitats and the locations of humans and we were trying to find out if there was some kind of clustering, which there should be and of course there was. But as we looked even closer what we found was that there was an association between the direction of the wind and the location of where people were at risk.”

    Smith says while mosquitos aren’t particularly good flyers, their flight pattern is directed by the scent of a potential human host.

    This mosquito larval habitat in Kilifi, Kenya, is also used for domestic purposes such as washing.
    This mosquito larval habitat in Kilifi, Kenya, is also used for domestic purposes such as washing.

    “We had a hypothesis that since scents travel down wind, that the mosquitos were actually tacking across the wind until they found one of those odor plumes and then tacking upwind until they found it. We should expect to find that places with higher risk were upwind of larval habitat.”  

    Smith and his research team studied 642 children living in Kenyan villages after the rainy season, when malaria peaks.

    Janet Midega is a medical entomologist with the Kenya Medical Research Institute and co-author of the study. She says scientists compared the malaria case data with the proximity of stagnant water pools. “What we did find was a lot of the pools of water did have immature mosquito stages, and so we sampled these pools of water. We sampled these mosquitos and identified them as the mosquito species that is responsible for malaria transmission in the area.”  

    The study found that the shorter the distance from those larval incubators, the higher the prevalence of malaria.  

    Smith says factoring wind into the equation makes it possible to target larval pools downwind from malaria hotspots and so control the disease at its source.

    “And the philosophy here is just that knowing it better we might be able to predict the distribution of risk a little bit better, or at least understand what mosquitos are doing so that we can do a better job of distributing nets or interventions.”

    Co-author Janet Midega says while plans are already underway to expand the study in Kenya, replicating it elsewhere presents an obvious challenge.  

    “The applicability of the outcome of these results will be extremely dependent on the local conditions and the mosquitos that are common in that local environment so that control measures are tailored for the local epidemiological situation.”

    So, Midega says, prevention strategies will depend on where you live, as some 30 to 40 different mosquito species transmit malaria.  Almost half the world’s population - about 3.3 billion people - is at risk.  In fact, the mosquito-borne parasitic disease strikes some 250 million people every year, and results in nearly one million deaths, largely in sub-Saharan Africa.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    Billions are spent on AIDS prevention, research, treatment — and major events like the International AIDS Conference. Activists say victims of the disease are paying for these costs.

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora