New mosquito species raises malaria fears

A new species of mosquito discovered in the highlands of western Kenya could potentially threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands annually.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently discovered the new breed, which renders bed netting useless because it feeds earlier in the in the evening than other species, according to

Insecticide-laced mosquito nets protect millions from malaria infection because the disease's primary carrier, the female anopheles mosquito, feeds primarily at night.

The scientists have been unable to match the DNA of the newly discovered species to any other known existing variety.

"We observed that many mosquitos we caught - including those infected with malaria - did not physically resemble other known malaria mosquitoes, Jennifer Stevenson, a London School researcher, said, reports. "The main difference that came through from this study is that we caught 70 per cent of these species A - which is what we named them because we don't know exactly what they are - outdoors before 10:30 p.m., which is the time when people in the village usually go indoors."

Jo Lines, Stevenson's colleague and a former co-coordinator for the World Health Organization's global malaria program, echoed the concerns of many experts about the discovery.

"We do not yet know what these unidentified specimens are, or whether they are acting as vectors [transmitters] on a wider scale, but in the study area they are clearly playing a major and previously unsuspected role," Lines said, reports.