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Bio funds from the Rhine in the fight against malaria in Africa
While the mosquitos represent a nuisance, but rather harmless from a health point of view, they are indirectly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths annually in Africa as the main carrier of malaria. A biological larvae-killer, which has proven itself in the Rhine-Neckar region, is to be used to combat malaria carriers in the future, the municipal working group to combat the Schnakenplage (KABS) and the Institute for Public Health at the University Hospital Heidelberg report in a current Press release.
"In the future, decades of experience in the fight against the summer multiplication of mosquitoes along the Upper Rhine should help to reduce the spread of malaria in West Africa," said the Heidelberg University Hospital. KABS and the Institute for Public Health at Heidelberg University Hospital have started a corresponding scientific project with the research center in Nouna, Burkina Faso. The “biological larvae-destroying agent BTI, which has proven itself in the Rhine-Neckar region for years” should be used. Risk maps based on the evaluation of satellite images enable the targeted, economical use of the bio-agent.
Bio-funds to prevent the development of swarms of mosquitoes The researchers involved hope a lot from the use of the biological larvae-killer in the malaria risk areas. “The project is the successful transfer of a technology that has been used extensively and routinely along the Rhine for many years. The method is effective, safe and harmless to people and the environment, ”emphasized the director of the Institute for Public Health at Heidelberg University Hospital and project leader, Professor Dr. Rainer Sauerborn. By supplementing the methods of combating malaria with biological larvae extermination that have been established in Burkina Faso so far, it is possible to prevent "swarms of mosquitoes that are barely manageable developing in the brood waters (and) fewer mosquitoes also mean a lower risk of infection", the expert concludes.
Biological larvae without undesirable side effects? According to the researchers, the biological larvae-killer BTI is based on a protein from the soil bacterium "Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis", which almost exclusively kills larvae of mosquitoes. "In contrast to many other insecticides, it is harmless to humans, other animals and plants and, since it is broken down in the water after just a few hours, is very environmentally friendly," explained the scientific director of KABS, Professor Dr. Norbert Becker. Also, “no resistance to this agent had developed over the course of more than thirty years on the Rhine.” In addition, the agent also has the advantage of easy handling, since the protein “can be injected into the water from the bank or from the boat” .
Quantum leap in the fight against malaria "The project can become a quantum leap in the fight against malaria", hopes Dr. h.c. Manfred Lautenschläger, Chairman of the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation, which is funding the current project with around 425,000 euros. "I am particularly pleased that scientific research from our region also benefits the health of the people in Burkina Faso," Lautenschläger continued. In the large model district around the city of Nouna, the project must now show "whether the new method fulfills expectations, reduces the number of malaria infected, makes mosquito control easier, and also saves costs for health systems," reports the Heidelberg University Hospital. An interesting question in this context would also be what effect a drastic reduction in the mosquito population can have on other organisms for which they serve as a food base. Otherwise, the well-intentioned approach could ultimately lead to undesirable side effects that could have an adverse impact on the livelihood of local people. (fp)
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Image: Henrik Gerold Vogel / pixelio.de