Sept. 9, 2011, 11:55 a.m.
Ivermectin -- an inexpensive, common medication already being used in Africa to treat roundworms that cause river blindness and parasites that cause elephantitis -- could also be used to kill mosquitoes carrying malaria parasites, potentially "provid[ing] another useful weapon in the armory against a disease that kills around 800,000 a year, most of them small children and pregnant women," the Guardian's "Global Health Blog" reports (Boseley, 7/6).
Brian Foy and colleagues from Colorado State University monitored mosquito populations in several villages that participated in the mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin and compared them with populations found in villages that did not participate in MDA, ScienceNOW reports. The researchers "found that in the treated villages, the proportion of mosquitoes with fully developed P. falciparum in their saliva dropped by 79% in 2 weeks. But in the control villages, the proportion rose by 246%, the researchers report online ... in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene," the news service writes (Green, 7/6).
"Larger, longer studies will be needed to show whether more frequent, such as monthly, doses of ivermectin during the malaria season in different parts of Africa have an important impact on the disease. But the researchers note that their study suggests it might be possible to use the drug to reduce malaria transmission during epidemics or in well-defined transmission seasons," according to a press releasefrom the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (7/6).