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Concept: Insect repellent


Reducing the number of host-vector interactions is an effective way to reduce the spread of vector-borne diseases. Repellents are widely used to protect humans from a variety of protozoans, viruses, and nematodes. DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), a safe and effective repellent, was developed during World War II. Fear of possible side effects of DEET has created a large market for “natural” DEET-free repellents with a variety of active ingredients. We present a comparative study on the efficacy of eight commercially available products, two fragrances, and a vitamin B patch. The products were tested using a human hand as attractant in a Y-tube olfactometer setup with Aedes aegypti (Linnaeus) and Aedes albopictus (Skuse), both major human disease vectors. We found that Ae. albopictus were generally less attracted to the test subject’s hand compared with Ae, aegypti. Repellents with DEET as active ingredient had a prominent repellency effect over longer times and on both species. Repellents containing p-menthane-3,8-diol produced comparable results but for shorter time periods. Some of the DEET-free products containing citronella or geraniol did not have any significant repellency effect. Interestingly, the perfume we tested had a modest repellency effect early after application, and the vitamin B patch had no effect on either species. This study shows that the different active ingredients in commercially available mosquito repellent products are not equivalent in terms of duration and strength of repellency. Our results suggest that products containing DEET or p-menthane-3,8-diol have long-lasting repellent effects and therefore provide good protection from mosquito-borne diseases.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Mosquito, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Insect repellent, Asian tiger mosquito, DEET


DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) is one of the most widely used mosquito repellents. Although DEET has been shown to be extremely effective, recent studies have revealed that certain individual insects are unaffected by its presence. A genetic basis for this has been shown in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, but, for the triatomine bug, Rhodnius prolixus, a decrease in response to DEET occurred shortly after previous exposure, indicating that non-genetic factors may also be involved in DEET “insensitivity”. In this study, we examined host-seeking behaviour and electrophysiological responses of A. aegypti after pre-exposure to DEET. We found that three hours after pre-exposure the mosquitoes showed behavioural insensitivity, and electroantennography revealed this correlated with the olfactory receptor neurons responding less to DEET. The change in behaviour as a result of pre-exposure to DEET has implications for the use of repellents and the ability of mosquitoes to overcome them.

Concepts: Insect, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila, Insect repellent


Mosquito-borne disease is an annual problem in Australia, with endemic pathogens such as Ross River virus infecting thousands of people each year. The recent emergence of Zika virus in South America and the Pacific, together with ongoing outbreaks of dengue viruses in Southeast Asia, generated great community interest in the most effective strategies to avoid mosquito bites. Large-scale mosquito control programs are not common in Australia and are limited in New South Wales (NSW). The use of topical insect repellents is a key recommendation by health authorities to prevent mosquito-borne disease. All products sold in Australia purporting to repel mosquitoes must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Despite around 100 commercial products registered as repelling mosquitoes, there are relatively few active ingredients used across these formulations. The most common are diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin, p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) and a range of plant-derived products (e.g. melaleuca, eucalyptus, citronella oils). Research has shown that each of these active ingredients varies in the duration of protection provided against biting mosquitoes. Recommendations by health authorities are informed by this research, but inconsistencies between recommendations and available repellent formulations and their concentration of active ingredients can cause confusion in the community. There are conflicts between the data resulting from scholarly research, marketing promotion by manufacturers and recommendations provided by overseas health authorities. A review was undertaken of NSW Health’s current recommendations on choosing and using insect repellents, taking into consideration recent research and currently registered topical repellents.

Concepts: Malaria, Mosquito, Australia, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Insect repellent, DEET, New South Wales


The primary defence against mosquitoes and other disease vectors is often the application of a repellent. Despite their common use, the mechanism(s) underlying the activity of repellents is not fully understood, with even the mode of action of DEET having been reported to be via different mechanisms; e.g. interference with olfactory receptor neurones or actively detected by olfactory receptor neurones on the antennae or maxillary palps. In this study, we discuss a novel mechanism for repellence, one of P450 inhibition. Thirteen essential oil extracts from Colombian plants were assayed for potency as P450 inhibitors, using a kinetic fluorometric assay, and for repellency using a modified World Health Organisation Pesticide Evaluations Scheme (WHOPES) arm-in cage assay with Stegomyia (Aedes) aegypti mosquitoes. Bootstrap analysis on the inhibition analysis revealed a significant correlation between P450-inhibition and repellent activity of the oils.

Concepts: Mosquito, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Insect repellent, Oil


BACKGROUND: Despite the extensive ownership and use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) over the last decade, the effective lifespan of these nets, especially their physical integrity, under true operational conditions is not well-understood. Usefulness of nets declines primarily due to physical damage or loss of insecticidal activity. METHODS: A community based cross-sectional survey was used to determine the physical condition and to identify predictors of poor physical condition for bed nets owned by individuals from communities in Kwale County, coastal Kenya. A proportionate hole index (pHI) was used as a standard measure, and the cut-offs for an ‘effective net’ (offer substantial protection against mosquito bites) and ‘ineffective nets’ (offer little or no protection against mosquito bites) were determined (pHI <= 88 (about <= 500 cm2 of holes surface area) and pHI of >88 (>=500 cm2 of holes surface area), respectively). RESULTS: The vast majority (78%) of the surveyed nets had some holes. The median pHI was 92 (range: 1–2,980). Overall, half of the nets were categorized as ‘effective nets’ or ‘serviceable nets’. Physical deterioration of nets was associated with higher use and washing frequency. Young children and older children were found to use ineffective bed nets significantly more often than infants, while the physical integrity of nets owned by pregnant women was similar to those owned by infants. Estuarine environment inhabitants owned nets with the worst physical condition, while nets owned by the coastal slope inhabitants were in fairly good physical condition. The results suggest that bed nets are optimally utilized when they are new and physically intact. Thereafter, bed net utilization decreases gradually with increasing physical deterioration, with most net owners withdrawing physically damaged nets from routine use.This withdrawal commonly happens following 1.5 years of use, making bed net use the most important predictor of physical integrity. On average, the nets were washed twice within six months prior to the survey. Washing frequency was significantly influenced by the bed net colour and bed net age. Lack of knowledge on reasons for net retreatment and the retreatment procedure was evident, while net repair was minimal and did not seem to improve the physical condition of the nets. The “catch-up” bed net distribution strategies are sufficient for ensuring adequate ownership and utilization of ‘effective nets’ in the targeted groups, but bi-annual mass distribution is necessary to provide similar ownership and utilization for the other groups not targeted by “catch-up” strategies. CONCLUSIONS: Monitoring and maintenance strategies that will deliver locally appropriate education messages on net washing and repair will enhance the effectiveness of malaria control programmes, and further research to assess ineffective nets need is needed.

Concepts: Malaria, Mosquito, Yellow fever, .NET Framework, Area, Insect repellent, Mosquito net


The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama, is the insect vector of the pathogen causing huanglongbing. We selected three botanical oils to evaluate behavioral activity against D. citri. In laboratory olfactometer assays, fir oil was repellent to D. citri females, while litsea and citronella oils elicited no response from D. citri females. In choice settling experiments, D. citri settled almost completely on control plants rather than on plants treated with fir oil at a 9.5 mg/day release rate. Therefore, we conducted field trials to determine if fir oil reduced D. citri densities in citrus groves. We found no repellency of D. citri from sweet orange resets that were treated with fir oil dispensers releasing 10.4 g/day/tree as compared with control plots. However, we found a two-week decrease in populations of D. citri as compared with controls when the deployment rate of these dispensers was doubled. Our results suggest that treatment of citrus with fir oil may have limited activity as a stand-alone management tool for D. citri and would require integration with other management practices.

Concepts: Water, Citrus, Liquid, Fruit, Orange, Hemiptera, Essential oil, Insect repellent


The current Zika outbreak is largest of its kind with 1.4 million cases in Brazil alone. World Health Organization declared the current outbreak as the public health emergency of international concerns. The major route of Zika virus transmission is mosquito bites. Sexual transmission and monkey bites are also observed in few cases. There is dire need to evaluate the other routes of transmission like blood transfusion, lactation and contact with body fluids. Zika virus is infecting infants, not only causing microcephaly but also creating number of complications resulting in bad outcomes of pregnancy. In Brazil alone, 4000 cases of microcephaly have observed during the current outbreak. The incidence of Guillain-Barre (GB) syndrome is also observed during the current Zika virus outbreak. GB syndrome is acute medical condition leading the patients to death due to weakness of respiratory muscles or can cause the life time disability. There is no anti-viral drug or vaccine available for Zika virus. Zika infection can be prevented by using mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, cooling rooms by air conditions and wearing full sleeves or permethrin-treated clothes. The current outbreak of Zika has not only affected the health care but also caused great economic loss. Estimated loss in Latin America and Caribbean is US$3.5 billion. United Nation’s sustainable development goal 3.d stresses the strengthening of early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks. The world will keep on facing new challenges in the form of Ebola or Zika; there is strong need to prepare ourselves for any disease outbreak.

Concepts: AIDS, Public health, Epidemiology, Blood, Malaria, Infection, World Health Organization, Insect repellent


There are major impediments to finding improved DEET alternatives because the receptors causing olfactory repellency are unknown, and new chemicals require exorbitant costs to determine safety for human use. Here we identify DEET-sensitive neurons in a pit-like structure in the Drosophila melanogaster antenna called the sacculus. They express a highly conserved receptor, Ir40a, and flies in which these neurons are silenced or Ir40a is knocked down lose avoidance to DEET. We used a computational structure-activity screen of >400,000 compounds that identified >100 natural compounds as candidate repellents. We tested several and found that most activate Ir40a(+) neurons and are repellents for Drosophila. These compounds are also strong repellents for mosquitoes. The candidates contain chemicals that do not dissolve plastic, are affordable and smell mildly like grapes, with three considered safe in human foods. Our findings pave the way to discover new generations of repellents that will help fight deadly insect-borne diseases worldwide.

Concepts: Insect, Mosquito, Olfaction, Insect repellent


Human landing catch studies were conducted in a semi-field setting to determine the efficacy of seven commercial products used for personal protection against mosquitoes. Experiments were conducted in two empty, insecticide free, mesh-enclosed greenhouses, in Israel, with either 1500 Aedes albopictus or 1500 Culex pipiens released on consecutive study nights. The products tested in this study were the OFF!(®) Clip-On™ Mosquito Repellent (Metofluthrin 31.2%) and the Terminix(®) ALLCLEAR(®) Sidekick Mosquito Repeller (Cinnamon oil 10.5%; Eugenol 13%; Geranium oil 21%; Peppermint 5.3%; Lemongrass oil 2.6%), which are personal diffusers; Super Band™ Wristband (22% Citronella oil) and the PIC(®) Citronella Plus Wristband (Geraniol 15%; Lemongrass oil 5%, Citronella oil 1%); the Sonic Insect Repeller Keychain; the Mosquito Guard Patch (Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus 80mg), an adhesive-backed sticker for use on textiles; and the Mosquito Patch (vitamin B1 300mg), a transdermal patch. It was determined that the sticker, transdermal patch, wristbands and sonic device did not provide significant protection to volunteers compared with the mosquito attack rate on control volunteers who were not wearing a repellent device. The personal diffusers: - OFF!(®) Clip-On™ and Terminix(®) ALLCLEAR(®) Sidekick - provided superior protection compared with all other devices in this study. These diffusers reduced biting on the arms of volunteers by 96.28% and 95.26% respectively, for Ae. albopictus, and by 94.94% and 92.15% respectively, for Cx. pipiens. In a second trial conducted to compare these devices directly, biting was reduced by the OFF!(®) Clip-On™ and the Terminix(®) ALLCLEAR(®) by 87.55% and 92.83%, respectively, for Ae. albopictus, and by 97.22% and 94.14%, respectively, for Cx. pipiens. There was no significant difference between the performances of the two diffusers for each species.

Concepts: Mosquito, Cinnamon, Aedes, Culicidae, Insect repellent, Citronella oil, Citronellol, Cymbopogon


Free or subsidised mosquito net (MN) distribution has been an increasingly important tool in efforts to combat malaria in recent decades throughout the developing world, making great strides towards eradicating this hugely detrimental disease. However, there has been increasing concern in the natural resource management and healthcare communities over alternative use of MNs, particularly in artisanal fisheries where it has been suggested they pose a threat to sustainability of fish stocks. So far, little evidence has been presented as to the global prevalence and characteristics of MN fishing, limiting global management initiatives and incentives for action across disciplines. We conducted a rapid global assessment of mosquito net fishing (MNF) observations from expert witnesses living and/or working in malarial zones using an internet survey. MNF was found to be a broadly pan-tropical activity, particularly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. MNF is conducted using a variety of deployment methods and scales including seine nets, scoop/dip nets, set nets and traps. MNF was witnessed in a broad range of marine and freshwater habitats and was seen to exploit a wide range of taxa, with capture of juvenile fish reported in more than half of responses. Perceived drivers of MNF were closely related to poverty, revealing potentially complex and arguably detrimental livelihood and food security implications which we discuss in light of current literature and management paradigms. The key policies likely to influence future impacts of MNF are in health, regarding net distribution, and natural resource management regarding restrictions on use. We outline critical directions for research and highlight the need for a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to development of both localised and broad-scale policy.

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Fish, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Natural resource, Insect repellent, Mosquito net