Less is more: repellent-treated fabric strips as a substitute for full screening of open eave gaps for indoor and outdoor protection from malaria mosquito bites

Margaret Mendi Njoroge*, Alexandra Hiscox, Adam Saddler, Willem Takken, Joop J.A. van Loon, Ulrike Fillinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Providing protection from malaria vector bites, both indoors and outdoors, is crucial to curbing malaria parasite transmission. Screening of house entry points, especially with incorporated insecticides, confers significant protection but remains a costly and labour-intensive application. Use of spatial repellents has shown promise in creating areas of protection in peri-domestic areas. Methods: This study aimed at comparing the protection provided by transfluthrin-treated and untreated complete screens over open eave gaps with incomplete transfluthrin-treated eave strips as a potential replacement for a full screen. Human landing catches were implemented independently inside and outside an experimental hut under controlled semi-field conditions, with insectary-reared Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes. Results: The odds of a female mosquito finding a human volunteer indoors and attempting to bite were similar whether the eaves were completely open or there was an untreated fabric strip fixed around the eaves. However, when the eave gap was completely screened without insecticide, the odds of receiving a bite indoors were reduced by 70% (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.20–0.47). Adding transfluthrin to the full screen, further increased the protection indoors, with the odds of receiving a bite reduced by 92% (0.08, 95% CI 0.04–0.16) compared to the untreated screen. Importantly, the same protection was conferred when only a narrow transfluthrin-treated fabric strip was loosely fixed around the eave gap (OR 0.07, 95% CI 0.04–0.13). The impact of the transfluthrin treatment on outdoor biting was correlated with evening temperatures during the experiments. At lower evening temperatures, a transfluthrin-treated, complete screen provided moderate and variable protection from bites (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.37–1.03), whilst at higher evening temperatures the odds of receiving a bite outdoors was over four times lower in the presence of transfluthrin, on either a full screen (OR 0.22 95% 0.12–0.38) or a fabric strip (OR 0.25, 95% 0.15–0.42), than when no treatment was present. Conclusion: The findings suggest that transfluthrin-treated fabric strips can provide a substitute for complete eave screens. They are a simple, easy-to-handle tool for protecting people from malaria mosquito bites indoors and potentially around the house in climatic areas where evening and night-time temperatures are relatively high.

Original languageEnglish
Article number259
JournalParasites and Vectors
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Eave screens
  • Eave strips
  • House screening
  • Human landing catches
  • Malaria control
  • Spatial repellent
  • Transfluthrin

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