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Malaria transmission and major malaria vectors in different geographical areas of Southeast Asia

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During the last decade, major progress in malaria control has been achieved in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. However, malaria is still a potentially fatal disease in some hilly-forested areas and continues to be endemic in a few coastal foci. To estimate the risk that stems from the major vectors after a decade of intensive malaria control, an entomological study based on human landing collections was conducted between April 1998 and November 2000 in six study villages (four in Vietnam, one in Cambodia and one in Laos) located in different physio-geographical areas. Five villages were selected in places where new cases of malaria still occurred. In the sixth village, in the northern hilly area of Vietnam, no case of malaria was detected during the past 3 years. In three study villages of the hilly forested areas of Cambodia and central Vietnam, Anopheles dirus A still played an important role in malaria transmission and maintain perennial transmission inside the villages despite its low density. Anopheles minimus A was found in all study villages except in the southern coastal village of Vietnam. Its role in malaria transmission, however, varied between localities and surveys. In one study village of central Vietnam it was almost absent (one specimen collected over 480 man nights), and in another village sporozoite positive specimens (2.8%) were only observed during the first two surveys whereas this species disappeared from the collections from November 1998 onwards (six surveys: 360 man nights). In the northern study site An. minimus A and C were found in all collections, but no local malaria transmission occurred. However, the constant presence of these two species associated with a high longevity (parous rate up around 80% and 65%, respectively), suggests that transmission can occur at almost any time if parasite reservoirs are reintroduced in the area. The proper management of malaria cases and population movement is, therefore, important to prevent outbreaks and the reintroduction of malaria in northern Vietnam. In the study site of the Mekong delta, An. sundaicus occurred at high densities (up to 190 bites/man/night). The recent changes in land use from rice cultivation to shrimp farming probably explains the increase of this brackish water breeding species during the study period. However, none of the 11 002 specimens was positive for Plasmodium circumsporozoite protein (CSP). The relative low survival rate as estimated by the parous rate (around 47 %) may reflect its low vectorial status that could explain the very low malaria incidence (1.9 case/100 persons/year) in this study site. A calculated sporozoite rate of maximum 1/300 000 is enough to explain this low malaria incidence. Despite the successes in malaria control, the vector An. dirus A continues to play an important role in malaria transmission, whereas An. minimus A showed temporal and spatial variation in its role as vector. The role of An. sundaicus as vector could not be confirmed because of the low incidence in the coastal study village. Other Anopheles species may be locally involved, but in the five study villages where malaria is still present they probably do not contribute significantly to malaria transmission. The study also points towards the fact that in Southeast Asia it will become increasingly difficult to incriminate Anopheles species in malaria transmission while the risk for malaria transmission still persist.
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Keywords: Anopheles dirus; Anopheles minimus; Anopheles sundaicus; Southeast Asia; malaria; transmission

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1:  National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology, Hanoi, Vietnam 2:  Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerpen, Begium 3:  National Center for Malaria Control, Parasitology and Entomology, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 4:  Center of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology, Vientiane, Laos

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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