A recent study conducted by French and Burkinabe researchers Of Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) reveals that a natural sugar diet reduces the lifespan, quantity of blood meals and fertility of female Anopheles mosquitoes (vector of malaria), which can reduce their ability to transmit the disease by about 30%.
To achieve these results, scientists fed mosquitoes in the laboratory with natural sugars from the nectars of ornamental plants as well as fruit plants such as mango and wild grapes purchased in Burkina. A group of mosquitoes received a 5% glucose solution. Twenty-four hours later, the mosquitoes had a meal of blood infected with Plasmodium falciparum (parasite causing malaria). The sugar diet was then continued for 14 days, which researchers say is the minimum time between a mosquito taking an infectious blood meal and the epidemiologically dangerous period.
« Microscopic observations combined with epidemiological modelling (…) revealed that vectors fed with Thevetia neriifolia nectar showed a 30% reduction in their malaria transmission capacity, while those gorged with B. lupilina nectar have their transmission potential increased by 30% and 40% respectively, » explains Thierry, an IRD researcher who participated to the study.
Based on these results, the researcher points out that « a good policy of planting natural sources of nectar in areas of high transmission could contribute significantly to reducing the incidence of malaria ».
New malaria control strategies
The mechanisms of action of natural sources of sugars on mosquitoes remain unknown until now according to the authors of the study who intend, nevertheless, to continue research on a wider range of plants « in order to identify species which could potentially block the transmission of the parasite ».
According to them, this study suggests new strategies of fighting malaria such as planting, plant species that negatively affect the vectorial capacity of mosquitoes.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, malaria remains the most widespread parasitic disease in the world with an estimated prevalence rate of 16% among children aged 2 to 10. In Togo, malaria accounts for 53% of outpatient consultations and 50% of hospitalisations in health centres according to the results of the Enquête Démographique et de Santé au Togo (EDST-III) 2013-2014.