Scientists from Britain and Kenya may have found a way to control malaria and possibly destroy one of the world’s most dangerous diseases.
The scientists say they have found a microbe that prevents mosquitoes from being infected with the organism that causes the disease.
A report on the research was published in Nature Communications. It says the microbe completely protects the insects from infection.
The microbe is called Microsporidia MB. The scientists found it inside the body and sex organs of mosquitoes living around Lake Victoria in Kenya.
The researchers reported they could not find a single mosquito with the microbe that causes malaria.
Jeremy Herren is an expert on insects. He said, “The data we have suggest it is 100% blockage, it’s a very severe blockage of malaria.”
Experts say they do not know how the microbe prevents the mosquitoes from carrying the malaria parasite. But they suspect that it affects the mosquito’s natural defenses so the insect does not become infected.
The scientists estimate that about five percent of mosquitoes carry the microbe naturally. The researchers say the next step is to study ways to release the microbe-carrying mosquitoes into the wild.
Malaria kills about 400,000 people every year. The disease spreads to people through mosquito bites. The World Health Organization (WHO) says most of the victims are children younger than five years.
Mosquito nets and insect-killing chemicals have aided in the fight against malaria over the past 20 years. This is especially the case in African countries south of the Sahara Desert. However, mosquitoes in some areas are becoming resistant to chemical products.
The WHO predicts that the number of malaria deaths could reach 769,000 or higher this year.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
VOANews.com reported this story. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
microbe – n. an extremely small living thing which requires a microscope to see
data – n. facts and other records used in a study
parasite – n. a living organism that lives in or on a plant or animal and gets food and protection from it