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Malaria Update: Eliminating Malaria In India By Protecting Both Cattle And Humans

Update Date: Jan 17, 2017 10:30 AM EST

Based on data collected by the World Health Organization, in the Asian region, the country of India has the highest number of cases of malaria. But according to a recent study, in order to eliminate malaria in India, the government and healthcare services should not only protect its human citizens but its cattle population too.

The team of researchers from Penn State said that in order to fully achieve the goal of eliminating malaria in India, efforts to control the malaria-transmitting mosquito population must include protection for the cattle population. As noted by the researchers, the malaria-transmitting mosquitoes not only prey on the humans but on the cows as well.

According to the researchers, in an area in India where high cases of malaria are reported, most of the malaria-transmitting mosquitoes dwell not in human houses but on cattle sheds and feed on both cattle and humans. Even if the Indian government implements continuous anti-malaria campaigns, the problem of malaria will still persist as only human houses are protected with the use of insecticides and other anti-mosquito tools and not on the habitat of the mosquitoes which are on the cattle sheds near the houses.

In order to determine the importance of the cows in propagating malaria, the researchers captured adult mosquitoes in six different habitats within six villages in a state in India called Odisha. The resting places of the mosquitoes were also noted and molecular techniques were used to determine which species the mosquitoes are and the hosts they mosquitoes were feeding on.

From the 1,774 Anopheles culicifacies and 169 Anopheles fluviatilis mosquitoes collected from the different habitats, both kinds of mosquitoes were found to be feeding on both cattle and human. These mosquitoes also congregate mostly on cattle sheds.

By inputting these data collected in a computer model, the researchers were able to determine the best way to manage the spread of malaria to have a great impact on malaria transmission in the Odisha state.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, suggests that by extending the anti-malaria efforts to cattle sheds where most of the mosquitoes are resting, there will be significant changes seen in the malaria-transmitted mosquito population. And no further efforts are needed as the same tools already available can be optimized and be used right away.

In addition, controlling the spread of malaria can be done by protecting the cows from the mosquitoes who feed on them. Topical or systematic insecticide can be used and individually treating the cows, the effectivity of the anti-malaria campaign can be speedily achieved.

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