Change in composition of the Anopheles gambiae complex and its possible implications for the transmission of malaria and lymphatic filariasis in north-eastern Tanzania

National Institute for Medical Research, Amani Centre, P, O, Box 81, Muheza, Tanzania. .
Malaria Journal (Impact Factor: 3.49). 06/2012; 11:188. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-11-188
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A dramatic decline in the incidence of malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum infection in coastal East Africa has recently been reported to be paralleled (or even preceded) by an equally dramatic decline in malaria vector density, despite absence of organized vector control. As part of investigations into possible causes for the change in vector population density, the present study analysed the Anopheles gambiae s.l. sibling species composition in north-eastern Tanzania.
The study was in two parts. The first compared current species complex composition in freshly caught An. gambiae s.l. complex from three villages to the composition reported from previous studies carried out 2-4 decades ago in the same villages. The second took advantage of a sample of archived dried An. gambiae s.l. complex specimens collected regularly from a fourth study village since 2005. Both fresh and archived dried specimens were identified to sibling species of the An. gambiae s.l. complex by PCR. The same specimens were moreover examined for Plasmodium falciparum and Wuchereria bancrofti infection by PCR.
As in earlier studies, An. gambiae s.s., Anopheles merus and Anopheles arabiensis were identified as sibling species found in the area. However, both study parts indicated a marked change in sibling species composition over time. From being by far the most abundant in the past An. gambiae s.s. was now the most rare, whereas An. arabiensis had changed from being the most rare to the most common. P. falciparum infection was rarely detected in the examined specimens (and only in An. arabiensis) whereas W. bancrofti infection was prevalent and detected in all three sibling species.
The study indicates that a major shift in An. gambiae s.l. sibling species composition has taken place in the study area in recent years. Combined with the earlier reported decline in overall malaria vector density, the study suggests that this decline has been most marked for An. gambiae s.s., and least for An. arabiensis, leading to current predominance of the latter. Due to differences in biology and vectorial capacity of the An. gambiae s.l. complex the change in sibling species composition will have important implications for the epidemiology and control of malaria and lymphatic filariasis in the study area.

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    ABSTRACT: Studies on the East African coast have shown a recent dramatic decline in malaria vector density and change in composition of sibling species of the Anopheles gambiae complex, paralleled by a major decline in malaria incidence. In order to better understand the ongoing changes in vector-parasite dynamics in the area, and to allow for appropriate adjustment of control activities, the present study examined the composition, and malaria and lymphatic filarial infection, of sibling species of the Anopheles funestus group. Similar to the An. gambiae complex, the An. funestus group contains important vectors of both malaria and lymphatic filariasis. Archived (from 2005-2012) and newly collected (from 2014) specimens of the An. funestus group collected indoors using CDC light traps in villages in northeastern Tanzania were analysed. They were identified to sibling species by PCR based on amplification of species-specific nucleotide sequence in the ITS2 region on rDNA genes. The specimens were furthermore examined for infection with Plasmodium falciparum and Wuchereria bancrofti by PCR. The identified sibling species were An. funestus s.s., Anopheles parensis, Anopheles rivulorum, and Anopheles leesoni, with the first being by far the most common (overall 94.4%). When comparing archived specimens from 2005-2007 to those from 2008-2012, a small but statistically significant decrease in proportion of An. funestus s.s. was noted, but otherwise observed temporal changes in sibling species composition were minor. No P. falciparum was detected in archived specimens, while 8.3% of the newly collected An. funestus s.s. were positive for this parasite. The overall W. bancrofti infection rate decreased from 14.8% in the 2005-2007 archived specimens to only 0.5% in the newly collected specimens, and with overall 93.3% of infections being in An. funestus s.s. The study indicated that the composition of the An. funestus group had remained rather stable during the study period, with An. funestus s.s. being the most predominant. The study also showed increasing P. falciparum infection and decreasing W. bancrofti infection in An. funestus s.s. in the study period, most likely reflecting infection levels with these parasites in the human population in the area.
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