Research over the last decade and more shows mosquitoes can develop resistance to drugs used to combat malaria. Well-documented and extensive research conducted ten years ago showed the development of resistance in the malaria parasite to chloroquine. This emphasised the importance of drug-resistance research as this helped avoid funding millions of dollars of chloroquine to an area where there were high-levels of chloroquine resistance. Further, knowledge of this developing resistance made it imperative to find other drugs that could be used to prevent, or treat those with, malaria so the focus was not on a single drug. Indeed, another drug, artemisinin is now one of the main ones used to treat those with malaria. Unsurprisingly perhaps, malaria parasites have now been found that have developed a resistance to Artemisinin so significant work is underway to understand and limit this resistance which is currently confined to a relatively small geographic area.
As with malaria drugs, bednets are no different and there is the potential for mosquitoes to develop a resistance to the insecticide used in long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs).
A recent research study
in Senegal (also covered in this BBC news article
) suggests such resistance may be developing. There is debate in the scientific community as to whether the results of this research study indicate the development of widespread resistance. It is likely further research is needed to establish how much of an issue this could be and what steps may be needed, such as the use of different insecticides, to ensure LLINs remain effective. This research is very important as the consequences of us not knowing if resistance has developed could be LLINs becoming much less effective than they are currently.