September 3, 2009

Newly found mosquito may carry malaria

A species of mosquito in South Africa new to researchers may carry the ability to transmit malaria, researchers in Johannesburg said.

The mosquito, known for the time being as Anopheles funestus-like, was found in and near villages near Karonga, a town on Lake Malawi's western shore, IRIN reported Tuesday.

The newly discovered species is related to another significant species, Anopheles funestus, which carries malaria, but further research is required before it is known it carries the disease, said Maureen Coetzee, the pathology professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who discovered the new mosquito species.

Anopheles funestus is considered one of the major causes of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa because it feeds on humans rather than other animals and has a propensity for living near humans and their environments.

The U.N. World Health Organization malaria report for 2008 shows that half the world's population is at risk for malaria. Sub-Saharan children and pregnant women are the most threatened.