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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


MUNHENGA, Givemore et al. Malaria risk and receptivity: Continuing development of insecticide resistance in the major malaria vector Anopheles arabiensis in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2022, vol.118, n.3-4, pp.1-7. ISSN 1996-7489.

Malaria incidence in South Africa is highest in the three endemic provinces: KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The contribution to malaria transmission by several mosquito species, variation in their resting behaviours and low levels of insecticide resistance makes it necessary to periodically monitor Anopheles species assemblages and resistance phenotypes in vector populations. The aim of this study was therefore to assess Anopheles species assemblage in northern KwaZulu-Natal and to collect insecticide susceptibility data for An. arabiensis, the primary vector of malaria in that province. Anopheles specimens were collected from Mamfene, Jozini, northern KwaZulu-Natal from November 2019 to April 2021. Progeny of wild-collected An. arabiensis females were used for standard insecticide susceptibility tests and synergist bioassays. Anopheles arabiensis contributed 85.6% (n=11 062) of the total catches. Samples for subsequent insecticide susceptibility bioassays were selected from 212 An. arabiensis families. These showed low-level resistance to DDT, permethrin, deltamethrin, and bendiocarb, as well as full susceptibility to pirimiphos-methyl. Synergist bioassays using piperonyl butoxide and triphenyl phosphate suggest oxygenase-based pyrethroid and esterase-mediated sequestration of bendiocarb. These low levels of resistance are unlikely to be operationally significant at present. It is concluded that northern KwaZulu-Natal Province remains receptive to malaria transmission despite ongoing control and elimination interventions. This is due to the perennial presence of the major vector An. arabiensis and other secondary vector species. The continued detection of low-frequency insecticide resistance phenotypes in An. arabiensis is cause for concern and requires periodic monitoring for changes in resistance frequency and intensity. SIGNIFICANCE: • Insecticide resistance in the major malaria vector Anopheles arabiensis in northern KwaZulu-Natal Province is cause for concern in terms of resistance management and ongoing vector control leading toward malaria elimination. • Despite ongoing control interventions, northern KwaZulu-Natal remains receptive to malaria owing to the perennial presence of several Anopheles vector species.

Keywords : malaria; vector control; risk and receptivity; malaria elimination.

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