Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are two species of mosquitoes that are of particular concern as they have the potential to spread viral infections including Zika virus, yellow fever, dengue, Murray Valley encephalitis, Barmah Forest virus, Ross River virus, and chikungunya (Weeratunga et al. 2017).
One of the most common and wide-spread mosquito-borne diseases is malaria.
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites, that are transmitted via the adult anopheline mosquitoes (Walshe et al. 2013).
Whilst malaria can be contracted in many areas around the world, it is a particularly dangerous issue in sub-Saharan Africa (Tusting et al. 2013). It is believed that as much as 40% of the world’s population live in malaria-affected regions (Polec et al. 2015).
High-quality evidence shows that malaria chemoprevention for ladies in the first or second trimester of pregnancy helps to avoid moderate to severe anaemia (Radeva-Petrova et al. 2014).
This chemoprevention also might make malaria illness less likely, and there is moderate evidence indicating that malaria chemoprevention betters the birthweights of infants (Radeva-Petrova et al. 2014).
Tusting et al. (2013) describe that some malaria prevention strategies can involve indoor netting that has been treated with insecticides, and indoor residual spraying.
Other strategies may involve limiting habitats available for larvae (Tusting et al. 2013).
Examples of this could involve draining land, or encouraging waters to be flowing instead of standing still. Moderate quality evidence implied that larval source management (LSM) likely prevents malaria development and infection (Tusting et al. 2013).
‘LSM was shown to be effective in Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines, Greece, Kenya, and Tanzania, where interventions included adding larvicide to abandoned mine pits, streams, irrigation ditches and rice paddies where mosquitos breed, and building dams, flushing streams, and removing water containers from around people’s homes. In one study from The Gambia where mosquitos were breeding in large swamps and rice paddies, spraying swamps with larvicide using ground teams did not show any benefit.’ – Tusting et al. (2013).
Benelli (2015) highlights that some vector control chemicals have adverse health outcomes for humans. Furthermore, the chemicals may also impact on the environment and may also lead to resistance.
Benelli (2015) states that some safer mechanisms for vector control include using mosquitocidals that are plant-borne and ‘sterile insect technique’.
It is important that further research into malaria prevention continues, as malaria can lead to illness and/or death (Tusting et al. 2013).
Benelli (2016) states that other strategies to consider may be: lure-and-kill, pheromone traps, and sound traps. Additional research may be needed into the cues for swarming and mating of mosquitoes (Benelli 2016).
One novel strategy for malaria prevention is the ‘Larvivorous fish’. These fish are to be placed in waters (e.g. ponds) near communities so that the fish may eat the mosquito larvae or pupae; thus, preventing the transmission of Plasmodium parasites (Walshe et al. 2013).
However, the study concluded that there was not enough evidence to indicate whether the larvivorous fish strategy lessens the spread of malaria or the adult anopheline mosquito population (2013).
Whilst reducing the number of mosquitoes (such as the aegypti) is important to prevent the spread of infections such as malaria, Dengue, Zika Chikungunya and Yellow Fever viruses, it is essential to consider the cost and effectiveness of implementing vector control strategies in comparison to the benefits (Yakob & Walker, 2016).