MALARIA – KENYA: INVASIVE WEED, MOSQUITO SURVIVAL
Scientists are warning that malaria cases in the country could see a rapid increase after a study was conducted on a highly aggressive invasive weed known scientifically as _Parthenium hysterophorus_, and locally as famine weed.
The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) says the weed could increase malaria incidence in East Africa since it has the ability to sustain the malaria-transmitting mosquito, _Anopheles gambiae_, by extending its life even in the absence of a blood meal.
In their report published in a medical journal PLoS ONE, Prof. Baldwyn Torto, ICIPE scientist, says the weed that is a native of North and South America, Parthenium is considered one of the world’s most serious invasive plants.
In addition, the scientists say the weed grows very fast, and is able to store large amounts of seeds in the soil and is extensively spread over cultivated and pastoral lands, including malaria-endemic zones, where it is among the plants that Anopheles mosquitoes prefer to feed on.
The report suggests an urgent need for focused efforts to curb the spread of Parthenium weed, especially in malaria-endemic areas.
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