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New ‘Steve’ mosquito threatens Nigeria, others’ malaria fight – WHO

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A new species of mosquito, commonly known as “steve” or scientifically referred to as Anopheles stephensi, is causing a surge in malaria infections in Nigeria and other African countries.

The World Health Organization reports that this mosquito species has been identified in seven African countries, marking a potential setback in the fight against malaria on the continent.

“Steve” originated in South Asia and was first detected in Djibouti in 2012. Since then, it has rapidly spread to Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

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Unlike typical mosquitoes that breed in natural habitats like rivers and swamps, “steve” is an urban breeder thriving in dry areas. It requires minimal moisture, found in containers, tyres, and gutters, to survive.

WHO’s lead for tropical diseases in Africa, Dr. Dorothy Achu, expressed the unique challenges posed by this new species.

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She noted, “It’s a threat in urban settings; it’s a threat to our strategies in place now because we’re mostly using indoor strategies. It’s also difficult to detect and is very resistant. It stays in very harsh climates and is very difficult to eliminate from an environment.”

The mosquito exhibits distinct characteristics, including biting outdoors during the day and displaying immunity to commonly used pesticides.

These factors make it challenging to control and eradicate through conventional methods.

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The impact of “steve” on malaria rates is evident in Djibouti. In 2012, the country was on the verge of eliminating malaria, recording only 27 cases. By 2020, the number of cases had surged to over 73,000.

A study suggests that this mosquito may expose an additional 126 million people to the risk of malaria in urban areas across Africa.

 

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