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Dawn of a New Malaria Killer; Disease Prevention to Become Easier

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Published on : Mar 14, 2019

The resurgence of malaria poses a major threat to nearly half of the world’s population, sub-Saharan Africa being highly susceptible. As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control malaria deaths dropped by 25% from 2010 to 2016. However, the percentage has significantly risen in 2016 with nearly 450,000 people dying of malaria.

Through the years, mosquito resistant bed nets treated with insecticides have proven to be an optimal solution. However, as the parasite has grown resistant to this insecticide, a great number of human population is prone to malaria. This has led the researchers to contemplate a possible alternative solution to tackle the looming threat of malaria.

Atovaquone Ingested Bed Nets: New Solution to Reduce Malaria Deaths

Lauren Childs, a professor at the Virginia Tech College has joined hands with researchers from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They discovered a solution to reduce the spread of the disease and consequently prevent malaria deaths. The idea was to use a drug to cure mosquitos of the malaria-causing parasite contrary to the insecticide that killed mosquitos.

Researchers tried covering bed nets with the drug “atovaquone” which is an antimalarial agent. While working on this solution, Childs emphasized on factors such as the external conditions and level of insecticide resistance. In addition to this, Child also explored how this compound affected malaria prevalence in the human population.

Researchers found that the average resting time of mosquitos on bed nets is six minutes. It is enough time for mosquitos to absorb medicine to kill the malarial parasite. Childs said that it is unlikely for mosquitos to grow resistant to atovaquone as it just kills the parasite. She further said that it is comparatively more effective and less harmful to the environment. The drug being licensed is safe for human use. This is a solution that could make a difference when implemented. Although, it will take a considerable time to take approvals and distribute the insecticide.