Malaria vector populations associated with the agricultural development at Mamfene, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The irrigation farming methods on the Makhathini Flats are thought to be responsible for recent increase in malaria cases in the Mamfene area of northern KwaZulu-Natal despite ongoing malaria control activities. Their coincidence with the period of intensive fanning is an interesting one. This study was therefore carried out to determine the relationship between larval habitats and adult mosquito population in malaria transmission using Geographic Information System (GIS). Four types of breeding sites were utilised by malaria vectors in Mamfene, viz; types 1, II, III and IV. Habitat type I was tap pools, type II was irrigation spillage in agricultural land, type III was spillage outside but adjacent to the agricultural land and type IV was depression pools located both in the Balamhlanga swamp and inland. The cumulative larval density in all habitats peaked in March 1995 (20/man-hr), with irrigation spillage (type III) recording the highest density index (33/man-hr) as compared to tap pools (type I) which recorded 32.8/man-hr while other waterbodies recorded I3 .4/man-hr (type II) and O.5/man-hr (type IV) respectively. Subsamples of both larvae and adults of An. gambiae group were identified by the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique. Of the larvae identified, 94.1 % and 5.9% (n=289) were An. arabiensis and An. quadriannulatus respectively while in the adult component, the composition was 98.7% and 1.3% (n=303) for An. arabiensis and An. quadriannulatus respectively. This confirmed An. arabiensis as the dominant malaria vector in Mamfene area while the exophilic behaviour of An. quadriannulatus was portrayed. Of the An. gambiae group dissected for parity, 51 .5%) were found parous. This is an indication that the population was old and was able to maintain transmission locally despite ongoing vector control measures. The Global Positioning System (GPS) was used to position larval and adult mosquito sampling sites. The spatial distribution of adult mosquitoes from the breeding sites were plotted using GIS soft ware (Map Info ) and the distance between the breeding sites and study houses were measured using a utility distance tool. With the aid of GIS, the adult mosquito density in houses could be used as an indicator to locate the breeding sites in the vicinity. The importance of these findings in terms of application in cost-effective malaria control cannot be over-emphasized.