The potential impact of Anopheles stephensi establishment on the transmission of Plasmodium falciparum in Ethiopia and prospective control measures

BMC Med. 2022 Apr 20;20(1):135. doi: 10.1186/s12916-022-02324-1.


Background: Sub-Saharan Africa has seen substantial reductions in cases and deaths due to malaria over the past two decades. While this reduction is primarily due to an increasing expansion of interventions, urbanisation has played its part as urban areas typically experience substantially less malaria transmission than rural areas. However, this may be partially lost with the invasion and establishment of Anopheles stephensi. A. stephensi, the primary urban malaria vector in Asia, was first detected in Africa in 2012 in Djibouti and was subsequently identified in Ethiopia in 2016, and later in Sudan and Somalia. In Djibouti, malaria cases have increased 30-fold from 2012 to 2019 though the impact in the wider region remains unclear.

Methods: Here, we have adapted an existing model of mechanistic malaria transmission to estimate the increase in vector density required to explain the trends in malaria cases seen in Djibouti. To account for the observed plasticity in An. stephensi behaviour, and the unknowns of how it will establish in a novel environment, we sample behavioural parameters in order to account for a wide range of uncertainty. This quantification is then applied to Ethiopia, considering temperature-dependent extrinsic incubation periods, pre-existing vector-control interventions and Plasmodium falciparum prevalence in order to assess the potential impact of An. stephensi establishment on P. falciparum transmission. Following this, we estimate the potential impact of scaling up ITN (insecticide-treated nets)/IRS (indoor residual spraying) and implementing piperonyl butoxide (PBO) ITNs and larval source management, as well as their economic costs.

Results: We estimate that annual P. falciparum malaria cases could increase by 50% (95% CI 14-90) if no additional interventions are implemented. The implementation of sufficient control measures to reduce malaria transmission to pre-stephensi levels will cost hundreds of millions of USD.

Conclusions: Substantial heterogeneity across the country is predicted and large increases in vector control interventions could be needed to prevent a major public health emergency.

Keywords: Anopheles stephensi; Ethiopia; Insecticide; Invasive; Malaria; Mathematical modelling; Vector control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles*
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Malaria* / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum* / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum* / prevention & control
  • Mosquito Vectors
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Prospective Studies