Confirmation of Anopheles varuna in vietnam, previously misidentified and mistargeted as the malaria vector Anopheles minimus.

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  • 1 Department of Parasitology, Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.

Malaria control programs in Southeast Asia are faced with several questions concerning vector behavior and species identification, which need to be answered to consolidate and further improve the results of control practices. The vector system in Southeast Asia is complex because of the number of species potentially involved in malaria transmission. Additionally, the follow-up and evaluation of preventive control measures are hampered by the misidentification of vectors due to overlapping morphological characters of the female mosquitoes. In central Vietnam, control practices are aimed at 2 main species, Anopheles dirus s.l. and Anopheles minimus s.l. These reputed vectors were studied in an area of Binh Thuan Province of south-central Vietnam. Different collection methods were used to capture mosquitoes quarterly during a 1-year period. Mosquitoes were identified in the field and later subjected to detailed morphological examination and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. What was thought to be an unusual morphotype of An. minimus was shown to be Anopheles varuna, and most specimens identified as the former species in the field proved to be the latter species. Very few An. minimus individuals were found during the study period. The population of An. varuna was found to be highly zoophilic, and based on this behavior, it cannot be considered a vector in Vietnam. Because this species was previously being misidentified as An. minimus, a nonvector was mistargeted as a malaria vector in Binh Thuan Province. Anopheles dirus, which was found positive for Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, is clearly the main vector in this area. Despite the fact that several potential secondary vectors were found during the study, the primary target for vector control in the region should be An. dirus.