By Jessica Berman
Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are becoming resistant to the insecticide used in bed nets to prevent the disease. Researchers say it is important to stay ahead of the resistance to avoid what they are calling a public health catastrophe.
Bed nets treated with inexpensive pyrethroid insecticides are the main defense against biting, malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and they have significantly cut down on the number of cases. The World Health Organization reports malaria infected an estimated 212 million people in 2015, killing some 429,000 of them.
That reflects a 21 percent drop in the incidence of between 2010 and 2015.
But a new study, published in the journal PLoS Genetics, found that the primary mosquito that harbors the parasite in southern Africa, Anopheles funestus, is rapidly becoming resistant to the insecticide. In at least one country, Mozambique, researchers discovered that 100 percent of A. funestus remained alive after direct exposure to the chemical.