Children with an insecticide-treated bed net (photo by Georgina Goodwin)

Patterns of insecticide resistance in African mosquito malaria vectors

Current malaria control programmes rely heavily on methods that target the mosquito vector using chemical insecticides, but recently alarming increases in insecticide resistance have been detected in malaria vectors throughout Africa. The World Health Organization has developed insecticide resistance management recommendations in response to this threat, but to be effective these initiatives require comprehensive information about levels of insecticide resistance in wild populations of malaria-transmitting mosquito species. In this study, we analysed observations of resistance levels in some of the most important malaria vector species sampled from 1183 locations spanning 38 African countries.

If mosquitoes show cross-resistance to multiple insecticide types, then the number of insecticides that remain effective is limited. Therefore, our research looked for evidence of common patterns of resistance amongst the different types of insecticides that are most important in mosquito control programmes.

We found strong relationships in resistance to three commonly used pyrethroids, which were also linked to resistance to DDT. These relationships were consistent across a large part of sub-Saharan Africa. We also found links between patterns of resistance and genetic variation across wild mosquito populations. These results can guide the design of resistance management strategies, and they also highlight the need for the development of novel insecticides.

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Full Citation

Hancock PA., Wiebe A., Gleave KA., Bhatt S., Cameron E., Trett A., Weetman D., Smith DL., Hemingway J., Coleman M., Gething PW., Moyes CL., Associated patterns of insecticide resistance in field populations of malaria vectors across Africa PNAS. May 2018 115.

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