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‘Harmless’ mosquito species now spreading malaria in Pakistan

Climate change has turned an inoffensive and harmless species of mosquito into a lethal vector of malaria in Pakistan by wiping out a major species of mosquitoes responsible for causing malaria in South Asia, a team of Pakistani and international scientists claimed, media reports said.

“Extremely high temperatures followed by devastating floods due to climate change have ‘wiped out’ a major species of mosquitoes, the ‘Anopheles culicifacies’, which was known for causing malaria in Pakistan. A previously unknown and harmless species of mosquitoes called Anopheles pulcherrimus is now spreading malaria at an alarming pace in the flood-affected areas of Sindh, Balochistan, and south Punjab,” Muhammad Mukhtar, a leading Pakistani entomologist, told The News.

More than five million suspected cases of malaria have so far been reported from the flood-affected areas of Sindh, Balochistan, and south Punjab from January to November 2022, officials in the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) said, adding that new revelations regarding the change in malaria-causing species in Pakistan have emerged as an “alarming development” for the
entire world.

“During the current field investigation, surprisingly not a single specimen of ‘Anopheles culicifacies’ in four districts of Sindh and Balochistan was found. This shows that this species has been wiped out from the flood-affected districts, most probably due to extraordinarily high temperatures followed by devastating floods this
year. Now, malaria in these areas is most probably being spread by a non-virulent and harmless species of mosquitoes called Anopheles pulcherrimus,” Mukhtar, who is the Director of Malaria Control at NHS,R&C claimed, The News reported.

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