Washington, Oct 1 (IANS) Entomologists have discovered an unknown but potentially dangerous malaria-transmitting mosquito in western Kenya which prefers to bite people earlier in the evening, soon after sunset. Its DNA also does not match any of the existing malaria-transmitting species.
The Anopheles species of mosquitoes which transmits malaria in Africa is already widely studied by researchers. It prefers to rest indoors during the day and feed on humans during the night.
Current malaria control programmes, including spraying of insecticides and using insecticide-treated bed nets, are designed with these behaviours in mind.
The team led by Jennifer Stevenson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, made the discovery, according to a University of Notre Dame (US) statement.
Although the new species has never been implicated in the transmission of malaria, new discoveries in its biting habits pose a threat because it was found to be active outdoors and prefers to bite people earlier in the evening, soon after sunset, when people are not protected by current malaria control techniques.
Neil Lobo, Notre Dame research associate professor, and Brandy St. Laurent, former Notre Dame doctoral student, were part of the researcher team.
Frank Collins, Notre Dame’s professor of biology, served as the principal investigator of the Malaria Transmission Consortium effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.