The Asian mosquito variant – known as Anopheles stephensi – is even more susceptible to local malaria parasites than the Ethiopian mosquito colony, according to Teun Bousema, Professor of Epidemiology of Tropical Infectious Diseases at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen: “This mosquito appears to be an extremely efficient spreader of the two main species of malaria.”
Researchers therefore warn that efforts must be ramped up to help stop the spread of these mosquitoes, for example via airports and seaports. “If that fails, the risk of urban malaria will rise in large parts of Africa,” Study Author Fitsam Tadesse, a doctoral student at Radboud University Medical Center, said.
The international impact of growing numbers of mosquito variants
Speaking to news agency CNN, Jo Lines, Professor of Malaria Control and Vector Biology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explained that the new findings were ‘significant’. He noted that efforts must be pulled to help eradicate the mosquito issue while it was still on a ‘continental scale’.
"I think we need a greater sense of urgency about this, at the continental scale than we do at the moment," he said. "If we wait now until we know more, it'll be too late to get rid of it. This will be no longer a foothold that you might want to get rid of, it will be one of the native mosquitoes of a large part of East Africa."
Lines added, as a warning, that the Asian tiger mosquito, which was initially just a regional mosquito, was now ‘in the process of invading Northern Europe’.
ITIJ reported on the additional impact that climate change would have on the risk of tropical diseases in areas such as Europe, which drastically alters the travel risk landscape for travellers.