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Nile Tilapia could fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes

KENYA - A native Kenyan fish called Nile tilapia could be used to help fight the spread of malaria, according to a new study published in the BioMed Central Public Health journal.

Nile Tilapia could be a valuable tool in fighting malaria

The study was carried out at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology.

Researchers cleared three ponds of fish and vegetation in western Kenya and measured the mosquito population.

They then introduced the tilapia into the ponds. According to the findings, no malaria-carrying mosquito larvae were found 10 days after the ponds were cleared, compared with a similar pond that had no tilapia. Forty-one weeks after the tilapia were introduced, the number of mosquitoes in the ponds decreased by more than 94 per cent, the study found.

Lead researcher Francois Omlin said Nile tilapia are known to feed on mosquito larvae, but this was the first study to test its potential in fighting malaria. “A fish in the field may act differently than a fish in an aquarium, and it was important to test.” Tilapia could be a valuable tool in fighting malaria because mosquitoes increasingly are developing resistance to some pesticides even as the malaria parasite is developing resistance to anti-malarial drugs.

Joanne Greenfield, a malaria adviser for the World Health Organization in Kenya, says the method may well work in a defined area of water, but mosquitoes spread in all sorts of places — including small pools in the mud and puddles — where obviously fish can’t be introduced.

Source: Vanguard