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Nationwide assessment of insecticide susceptibility in Anopheles gambiae populations from Zimbabwe
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    Background

    The scale-up of malaria interventions in sub-Saharan Africa has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in insecticide resistance in Anopheles spp. In Zimbabwe resistance to pyrethroid insecticides was reported in Gokwe District in 2008. This study reports results of the first nation-wide assessment of insecticide susceptibility in wild populations of Anopheles gambiae sensu lato (s.l.) in Zimbabwe, and provides a comprehensive review of the insecticide resistance status of An. gambiae s.l. in southern African countries.

    Methods

    World Health Organization (WHO) insecticide susceptibility tests were performed on 2,568 field collected mosquitoes originating from 13 sentinel sites covering all endemic regions in Zimbabwe in 2011–2012. At each site, 24-hour mortality and knock-down values for 50% and 90% of exposed mosquitoes (KD50 and KD90, respectively) were calculated for pools of 20–84 (mean, 54) mosquitoes exposed to 4% DDT, 0.1% bendiocarb, 0.05% λ-cyhalothrin or 5% malathion. Susceptibility results from Zimbabwe were compiled with results published during 2002–2012 for all southern African countries to investigate the resistance status of An. gambiae s.l. in the region.

    Results

    Using WHO criteria, insecticide resistance was not detected at any site sampled and for any of the insecticide formulations tested during the malaria transmission season in 2012. Knock-down within 1 hr post-insecticide exposure ranged from 95% to 100%; mortality 24 hours post-insecticide exposure ranged from 98% to 100%. Despite the lack of insecticide resistance, high variability was found across sites in KD50 and KD90 values. A total of 24 out of 64 (37.5%) sites in southern Africa with reported data had evidence of phenotypic insecticide resistance in An. gambiae s.l. to at least one insecticide.

    Conclusion

    Despite a long history of indoor residual spraying of households with insecticide, up to 2012 there was no evidence of phenotypic resistance to any of the four insecticide classes in An. gambiae s.l. collected across different eco-epidemiological areas in Zimbabwe. Results reinforce the need for careful monitoring over time in sentinel sites in order to detect the potential emergence and propagation of insecticide resistance as insecticidal vector control interventions in Zimbabwe continue to be implemented.

    Electronic supplementary material

    The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-408) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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