Modeling Sustained Transmission of Wolbachia among Anopheles Mosquitoes: Implications for Malaria Control in Haiti

D. Florez, A. J. Young, K. J. Bernabé, J. M. Hyman and Z. Qu,  Trop Med Infect Dis,  8. 2023.

Wolbachia infection in Anopheles albimanus mosquitoes can render mosquitoes less capable of spreading malaria. We developed and analyzed a mechanistic compartmental ordinary differential equation model to evaluate the effectiveness of Wolbachia-based vector control strategies among wild Anopheles mosquitoes in Haiti. The model tracks the mosquito life stages, including egg, larva, and adult (male and female). It also accounts for critical biological effects, such as the maternal transmission of Wolbachia through infected females and cytoplasmic incompatibility, which effectively sterilizes uninfected females when they mate with infected males. We derive and interpret dimensionless numbers, including the basic reproductive number and next-generation numbers. The proposed system presents a backward bifurcation, which indicates a threshold infection that needs to be exceeded to establish a stable Wolbachia infection. The sensitivity analysis ranks the relative importance of the epidemiological parameters at baseline. We simulate different intervention scenarios, including prerelease mitigation using larviciding and thermal fogging before the release, multiple releases of infected populations, and different release times of the year. Our simulations show that the most efficient approach to establishing Wolbachia is to release all the infected mosquitoes immediately after the prerelease mitigation process. Moreover, the model predicts that it is more efficient to release during the dry season than the wet season.

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