The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has announced the presence of a new breed of mosquito in Ghana. Known as Anopheles stephensi, the new specie was confirmed in March 2023 in Tuba and Dansoman, in Accra.
An April 14 circular from GHS says this new breed of mosquitos is difficult to control and is quick to adapt to different climatic conditions.
Here’s an explainer from Fact-Check Ghana, detailing the characteristics of the new type of mosquito and ways to prevent it.
What is the Anopheles stephensi?
Anopheles stephensi is the newest type of mosquito species that is capable of transmitting both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax malaria parasites.
The parasite is transmitted through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito and causes the most dangerous form of the disease, falciparum malaria.
It was originally native to South Asia and parts of the Arabian Peninsula, but has been expanding its range over the last decade, with detections reported in Djibouti (2012), Ethiopia and Sudan (2016), Somalia (2019) and Nigeria (2020).
Where Anopheles stephensi has been reported in Africa, it has been found to be resistant to many of the insecticides used in public health, posing an added challenge to its control, according to the World Health Organisation(WHO).
WHO says the spread of Anopheles stephensi is a major potential threat to malaria control and elimination in Africa and southern Asia.
Unlike the Anopheles mosquitos that breed largely in rural areas, Anopheles stephensi is often found in urban areas, in the same standing water that breeds Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries dengue, Zika and more.
People who have malaria usually feel very sick with a high fever and shaking chills and may result in death.
But what must one do to prevent being bitten by Anopheles stephensi?
- As with other forms of preventing the spread of mosquitos and being bitten by same, Anopheles stephensi exploits several larval habitat types—ranging from human-made water containers such as plastic tanks, cisterns, barrels, discarded tyres and plastic containers, to freshwater pools such as the margins of water streams and in irrigation ditches. Keeping your grass cut and your yard free of other debris gives mosquitos fewer places to hide and thrive.
- Another way to stay safe is the use of treated mosquito nets. Many urban dwellers tend not to use mosquito nets. This is likely to expose them to harmful mosquitos such as the Anopheles stephensi, which is prevalent in urban areas.
- Newer products like clip-on devices (metofluthrin) and mosquito coils (allethrin) may be effective in getting rid of mosquitoes in localized zones. You may also use skin repellant, which has proven to be an effective way to prevent the bite of mosquitos.
- It is advised that people who experience any malaria symptoms should report to the nearest health facility for a checkup.
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