Evaluation of the relative roles of the Tabanidae and Glossinidae in the transmission of trypanosomosis in drug resistance hotspots in Mozambique

20 Apr 2021

BACKGROUND : Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) and tabanids (Diptera: Tabanidae) are haematophagous insects of medical and veterinary importance due to their respective role in the biological and mechanical transmission of trypanosomes. Few studies on the distribution and relative abundance of both families have been conducted in Mozambique since the country’s independence. Despite Nicoadala, Mozambique, being a multiple trypanocidal drug resistance hotspot no information regarding the distribution, seasonality or infection rates of fly-vectors are available. This is, however, crucial to understanding the epidemiology of trypanosomosis and to refine vector management. METHODS : For 365 days, 55 traps (20 NGU traps, 20 horizontal traps and 15 Epsilon traps) were deployed in three grazing areas of Nicoadala District: Namitangurine (25 traps); Zalala (15 traps); and Botao (15 traps). Flies were collected weekly and preserved in 70% ethanol. Identification using morphological keys was followed by molecular confirmation using cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene. Trap efficiency, species distribution and seasonal abundance were also assessed. To determine trypanosome infection rates, DNA was extracted from the captured flies, and submitted to 18S PCR-RFLP screening for the detection of Trypanosoma. RESULTS : In total, 4379 tabanids (of 10 species) and 24 tsetse flies (of 3 species), were caught. NGU traps were more effective in capturing both the Tabanidae and Glossinidae. Higher abundance and species diversity were observed in Namitangurine followed by Zalala and Botao. Tabanid abundance was approximately double during the rainy season compared to the dry season. Trypanosoma congolense and T. theileri were detected in the flies with overall infection rates of 75% for tsetse flies and 13% for tabanids. Atylotus agrestis had the highest infection rate of the tabanid species. The only pathogenic trypanosome detected was T. congolense. CONCLUSIONS : Despite the low numbers of tsetse flies captured, it can be assumed that they are still the cyclical vectors of trypanosomosis in the area. However, the high numbers of tabanids captured, associated to their demonstrated capacity of transmitting trypanosomes mechanically, suggest an important role in the epidemiology of trypanosomosis in the Nicoadala district. These results on the composition of tsetse and tabanid populations as well as the observed infection rates, should be considered when defining strategies to control the disease.