News & Events

UC Malaria Research and Control Group Sends Delegation to Tanzania to Target Malaria

December 20, 2006

The University of California Malaria Research and Control Group (UC MRCG) is targeting malaria in Tanzania.

A delegation recently journeyed to the east African country to develop collaborations and build partnerships for malaria control and research.

Greg Lanzaro"Malaria is the leading cause of death in both children and adults in Tanzania," said UC Davis medical entomologist and UC MRCG Gregory Lanzaro, who also directs the UC Mosquito Research Program and the Center for Vectorborne Diseases, all headquartered on the UC Davis campus. "In 2003, the most recent year for which information is available, there were more than 10 million cases of malaria in Tanzania."

Joining him for a series of meetings at the Ifakara Health Research and Development Center (IHRDC), Ifakara, Tanzania, which operates under the leadership of the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, were UC Davis medical entomologist Anthony Cornel, director of the UC Mosquito Research Laboratory at the Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier; and two representatives from the Mosquito Vector and Control Association of California (MVCAC): Major Dhillon, manager of the Northwest Mosquito and Vector Control District, Corona, and Steve Mulligan, who manages the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District, Selma.

UC MRCG, comprised of scientists from four UC campuses and the 61-district MVCAC, vowed at its organizational meeting last February to help wipe out malaria in Africa. Tanzania is one of the countries carrying the heaviest burden from malaria.

Gerry Killeen, IHRDC public health entomology unit leader, invited the delegation to the series of Oct. 24 research meetings. Each California delegate gave a presentation.

"The overall purpose of these meetings was to learn about malaria-related research currently ongoing at the center and to discuss potential opportunities for collaboration between the IHRDC and UC MRCG," Lanzaro said. The meeting drew professors and researchers from Wageningen Unversity, the Netherlands; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.; the University of Glasow, Scotland; and the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

"We discussed the importance of conducting studies of the molecular and population genetics of malaria vectors in Tanzania," Lanzaro said. "We also discussed the importance of studies on insecticide resistance, especially since Tanzania will soon initiate a national malaria control campaign based on the use of pyrethroid impregnated bednets."

The California delegation visited field sites at and near the village of Lupiro. They observed collection methods employed by the Ifakara staff, which differ from the methods Cornel and Lanzaro use in west and central Africa. "We made collections from two sites and these were brought back to UC Davis for chromosomal and genetic (microsatellite) analysis. These specimens are available to other UC MRCG faculty who may wish to examine them."

Dhillon and Mulligan also participated in a stakeholders meeting of the Integrated Urban Malaria Control Program in Dar es Salaam (pop. 4 million) to exchange expertise and to share ideas from the California mosquito control prospective. A Dhillon-Mulligan presentation, described as "very well received and generating much interest and discussion," emphasized similarities and differences between Dar and California mosquito control programs, including program history, development and structure and funding sources.

Greg Lanzaro"At present, malaria is prevalent in Tanzania," Mulligan and Dhillon wrote in a report submitted to the UC MRCG director. "The efforts of malaria control in Tanzania are primarily focused on urban mosquito control with not much emphasis in rural areas. Presently, the program is being funded by grants from several foundations. The sustainability of the program depends upon continued support of these grants and any new grants."

The malaria program includes mapping of larval habitat, monitoring of larval and adult population, larviciding, and householder surveys. CORPS or community-owned resource persons work in one of three areas: surveillance and monitoring, control and data management.

"One difference from the typical control program in California is that, in Dar, no CORPS members who monitor the larval population are involved in the spray program as the application treatments are made by a separate Control CORPS," the Dhillon-Mulligan report said. "All water sources are treated with only Bti irrespective of any mosquito breeding. At present, Bti is being donated by Valent Biosciences."

Every six months, a household survey group interviews approximately 10,000 people and draws blood samples to detect malaria. "The mapping group prepares very precise maps of all breeding sources within the 15-ward zone (15 of 73 wards are currently covered)," the report said. "These maps are so precise that when given to new employees, they can locate every breeding source in their community, a virtual manmade GPS. The ultimate goal of the mapping is to prepare digitized maps. It is estimated that it takes one month of hard work to map 5 kilometers."

In the city of Dar, 18 percent of malaria transmissions occur outside houses. Malaria incidence is lower in urban areas than in rural. The Entomological Inoculation Rate (EIR) in Tanzania varies from 200 to 1250 with an average of 400, "which translates to the fact that almost everybody has or has had malaria," the report said. EIR, a measurement of the intensity of malaria transmission, is the number of inoculations of malaria parasites received by one person in one year.

The report recommends that the UC MRCG initiate collaborative operational efforts between Dar Dar es Salaam Mosquito Control Program and the UC MRCG, especially members of the MVCAC; initiate collaborative research program between IHRDC and UC MRCG; and foster partnership between IHRDC, Dar and UC MRCG for obtaining grants.

The collaborative operational efforts would address personnel exchange between California districts and both IHRDC and, especially, the Urban Malaria Control Program in Dar on an ongoing basis. Employees from Tanzania would visit California districts and California operational employees would be able to visit their program. The mosquito and vector control districts in California would be asked through a questionnaire if they are willing to donate equipment or material to Tanzania, and assist them in obtaining stable funding for mosquito control program.

Research grant proposals would involve training of employees and public education via pamphlets and news media in Tanzania. The other component of grant proposal would consist of basic research on population genetics, insecticide resistance, biology and ecology of vector Anopheles, how to improve diagnostic technique of malaria detection in field, better adult surveillance techniques and alternative ecological wetlands to suppress malaria in both urban and rural areas of Tanzania.

More information, with photos, on the UC MRCG and the delegation’s trip to Tanzania is at http://www.mrcg.ucdavis.edu/news/tanzaniatrip.html.

For UC MRCG director Gregory Lanzaro’s participation in the White House Summit on Malaria, see
http://www.mrcg.ucdavis.edu/news/whitehousesummit.html. UC MRCG is part of the UC Mosquito Research Program, a statewide program of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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Web sites:

UC Davis Center for Vectorborne Diseases (CVEC) http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/cvec/

UC Mosquito Research Program http://www.ucmrp.ucdavis.edu

Lanzaro Vector Genetics Lab http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/faculty/lanzaro/index.htm

UC Malaria Research and Control Group http://www.mrcg.ucdavis.edu


Kathy Keatley Garvey, Communications

University of California Statewide Mosquito Research Program/Department of Entomology

396 Briggs Hall

One Shields Ave., University of California, Davis

Davis, CA 95616

Phone: (530) 754-6894, Fax: (530) 752-1537, Email: kegarvey@ucdavis.edu