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Free Content Cytogenetic and PCR-based identification of S. damnosum‘Nkusi J’ as the anthropophilic blackfly in the Uluguru onchocerciasis focus in Tanzania

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A combined molecular and cytogenetic analysis was used to identify the local blackfly vectors of onchocerciasis in the Uluguru Mts. focus, Morogoro region, central Tanzania. Cytotaxonomic identification revealed the occurrence of three cytospecies of the Simulium damnosum complex, along altitudinal gradients. The cytoform ‘Nkusi’ was found breeding at low to mid-altitudes (100–500 m), while S. kilibanum was found at mid- and high altitudes (300–1260 m), being sympatric with ‘Sebwe’ only in the highlands. The analyses further revealed the cytoform ‘Nkusi’ from the nearby Kilosa focus. Simulium kilibanum and ‘Nkusi’ are potential vectors of onchocerciasis, while the ‘Sebwe’ form is considered non-anthropophilic and therefore not a vector. By means of molecular typing of wild-caught females, ‘Nkusi’ was incriminated as the man-biting fly at all catching sites, and consequently, is the assumed vector of onchocerciasis over the full altitude range. In the high altitude zones, however, S. neavei group species may act as secondary vectors at the edge of the forest reserve, if transmission actually occurs there at all. Our results also suggest that vector control could be feasible because of the vector species breeding in the foothills below 500 m in relatively accessible open country.

Keywords: Simulium damnosum s.l; Tanzania; Uluguru Mts; cytogenetics; onchocerciasis; rDNA internal transcribed spacer1

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany 2:  National Institute for Medical Research, Tukuyu Research Station, Tukuyu, Tanzania

Publication date: July 1, 2006


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