For the Love of Mosquitoes

This week’s Fist Bump Friday goes out to VectorLink Zambia Insectary Technician Justine Nzowa. When COVID-19 cases started rising in Zambia in March 2020, VectorLink Zambia staff were instructed to work from home both at the central level in Lusaka and at the three provincial offices. Staff went to the offices only for essential activities and with prior approval. Managing the VectorLink Project insectary is one of those essential activities as the mosquitoes need to be kept alive for use in the evaluation of residual efficacy of insecticides and other potential activities in the future. As a result, an insectary technician is needed on a daily basis.

Insectary technician Justine Nzowa continued the daily insectary maintenance and mosquito rearing activities at the insectary, which is based at the National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC) in Lusaka. To ensure his safety, a transportation plan was put in place to allow him to get to and from work with minimal contact with people while maintaining the COVID-19 guidelines given by the Ministry of Health (e.g. wearing face masks at all times and washing hands/sanitizing as well as maintaining social distance).

While cone bioassays were suspended in March, they resumed in April as requested by the NMEC. Due to his diligence and hard work, Justine, with assistance from laboratory assistant Allan Mubinda, provided in a timely manner the required number of susceptible Anopheles gambiae s.s. Kisumu strain of mosquitoes needed for cone bioassays in all five districts planned for residual efficacy monitoring and maintained a steady size of colony mosquitoes.

Please join us in giving a well-deserved Fist Bump to Justine for his diligence in maintaining mosquito colonies through the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations, Justine and VL Zambia!