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Open Access Changing distribution and abundance of the malaria vector in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

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Background: The malaria vector Anopheles merus occurs in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. As its contribution to malaria transmission in South Africa has yet to be ascertained, an intensification of surveillance is necessary to provide baseline information on this species. The aim of this study was therefore to map An. merus breeding sites in the Ehlanzeni District of Mpumalanga Province and to assess qualitative trends in the distribution and relative abundance of this species over a 9-year period.

Methods: The study was carried out during the period 2005–2014 in the four high-risk municipalities of Ehlanzeni District. Fifty-two breeding sites were chosen from all water bodies that produced anopheline mosquitoes. The study data were extracted from historical entomological records that are captured monthly.

Results: Of the 15 058 Anopheles mosquitoes collected, 64% were An. merus. The abundance and distribution of An. merus increased throughout the four municipalities in Ehlanzeni District during the study period.

Conclusion: The expanded distribution and increased abundance of An. merus in the Ehlanzeni District may contribute significantly to locally acquired malaria in Mpumalanga Province, likely necessitating the incorporation of additional vector control methods specifically directed against populations of this species.
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Keywords: An. arabiensis; An. merus; Anopheles gambiae complex; malaria transmission; minor vector

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Malaria Elimination Programme, Mpumalanga Department of Health, Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga, South Africa 2: Wits Research Institute for Malaria, School of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, Vector Control Reference Laboratory, Centre for Emerging Zoonotic & Parasitic Diseases, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa 3: Wits Research Institute for Malaria, School of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa 4: Operational Research Unit, Operational Centre Brussels, Medécins Sans Frontières, Luxembourg 5: Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), Eldoret, Kenya 6: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya 7: National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shanghai, China 8: World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa Region, Asmara, Eritrea 9: The Lighthouse Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi

Publication date: April 25, 2018

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