The prevalence of malaria among the residents of the Lake Victoria basin remains high. The environment associated with the lake may maintain a high number of malaria vectors. Lake habitats including water hyacinths have been suspected to be the source of vectors. This study investigated whether malaria vectors breed in the lake habitats and adjacent backwater pools.
Anopheline larvae were collected within the littoral zone of the lake and adjacent pools located along approximately 24.3 km of the lakeshore in western Kenya, and their breeding sites characterized. Three primary vector species, Anopheles arabiensis, Anopheles gambiae s.s. and Anopheles funestus s.s., and three potential vectors, were found in the lake habitats. Unexpectedly, An. arabiensis was the most dominant vector species in the lake sampling sites.
Its habitats were uncovered or covered with short grass. A potential secondary malaria vector, Anopheles rivulorum, dominated the water hyacinths in the lake. Most breeding sites in the lake were limited to areas that were surrounded by tall emergent plants, including trees, and those not exposed to waves. Nearly half of adjacent habitats were lagoons that were separated from the lake by sand bars. Lagoons contained a variety of microhabitats. Anopheles arabiensis dominated open habitats, whereas An. funestus s.s. was found mainly in vegetated habitats in lagoons.
The current study confirmed that several breeding sites are associated with Lake Victoria. Given that Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world, the lake related habitats must be extensive; therefore, making targeted vector control difficult. Further exploration is necessary to estimate the effects of lake associated habitats on malaria transmission so as to inform a rational decision-making process for vector control.