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Insecticide bed nets linked to malaria increase

Insecticide treated bed nets are one of the main preventative measures used to tackle malaria, but an African study has found they could be linked to a...

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|Aug 18|magazine6 min read

Insecticide treated bed nets are one of the main preventative measures used to tackle malaria, but an African study has found they could be linked to a resurgence of the illness.

A research project from Senegal has suggested mosquitoes can build up a resistance to the chemical that covers the nets to repel the insects.

It is also thought the nets can reduce the natural immunity adults and children have to malaria.

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Bed nets have been widely distributed in African countries by the WHO, who claims if distributed properly they can reduce malaria rates by approximately 50 percent.

In Senegal alone, six million nets have been distributed in the last five years and researchers tracked the incidences of malaria in one village before and after the 2008 introduction of nets.

Initially the results were promising and the researchers found incidences of malaria decreased by 13 percent just three weeks after the nets were distributed.  

However, it was discovered 37 percent of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes were resistant to the Deltamethrin chemical recommended for use in bed nets by the WHO by 2010.

Worryingly, the study also found incidences of malaria were in some cases higher in both adults and children after the nets were introduced.

Dr Jean-Francois Trape, who led the research, said: “These findings are a great concern since they support the idea that insecticide resistance might not permit a substantial decrease in malaria morbidity in many parts of Africa.”