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Linking Deforestation to Malaria in the Amazon: Characterization of the Breeding Habitat of the Principal Malaria Vector, Anopheles darlingi

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  • 1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Department of International Health and the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; Asociación Benéfica PRISMA (Proyectos en Informatica, Salud, Medicina y Agricultura), Lima, Peru; Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

This study examined the larval breeding habitat of a major South American malaria vector, Anopheles darlingi, in areas with varying degrees of ecologic alteration in the Peruvian Amazon. Water bodies were repeatedly sampled across 112 km of transects along the Iquitos-Nauta road in ecologically varied areas. Field data and satellite imagery were used to determine the landscape composition surrounding each site. Seventeen species of Anopheles larvae were collected. Anopheles darlingi larvae were present in 87 of 844 sites (10.3%). Sites with A. darlingi larvae had an average of 24.1% forest cover, compared with 41.0% for sites without A. darlingi (P < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis identified seasonality, algae, water body size, presence of human populations, and the amount of forest and secondary growth as significant determinants of A. darlingi presence. We conclude that deforestation and associated ecologic alterations are conducive to A. darlingi larval presence, and thereby increase malaria risk.

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