A new mosquito species, nicknamed “Steve” (scientific name Anopheles stephensi), is threatening to increase malaria cases in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The mosquito, which originated in South Asia, was first detected in Djibouti in 2012 and has since spread to seven other African countries, including Nigeria and Ghana.
Unlike the typical malaria vectors, “Steve” prefers to breed in urban and dry areas, such as gutters, tyres, and containers. It also bites during the day and resists common insecticides, making it harder to control.
Dr. Dorothy Achu, the WHO’s chief of tropical diseases in Africa, warned that “Steve” could undermine the current malaria interventions, which mainly target indoor transmission.
She urged for more research and innovation to find effective ways to combat this new mosquito menace, which could expose millions of people to the risk of malaria. Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by parasites that infect the red blood cells.
It causes fever, chills, headache, and other symptoms. In 2020, malaria killed over 600,000 people worldwide, mostly in Africa.
Many African countries have been implementing comprehensive malaria-eradication programmes that involve preventive measures, such as insecticide-treated nets and antimalarial drugs, as well as diagnostic tools and therapeutic treatments.
Cape Verde is the latest African country to achieve malaria elimination, joining Mauritius and Algeria.