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Concept: Mosquito net


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


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


Global efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis are based on the annual mass administration of antifilarial drugs to reduce the microfilaria reservoir available to the mosquito vector. Insecticide-treated bed nets are being widely used in areas in which filariasis and malaria are coendemic.

Concepts: Malaria, Southeast Asia, Mosquito, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Filariasis, New Guinea, Mosquito net


Long-lasting insecticidal bed nets (LLINs) protect humans from malaria transmission and are fundamental to malaria control worldwide, but little is known of how mosquitoes interact with nets. Elucidating LLIN mode of action is essential to maintain or improve efficacy, an urgent need as emerging insecticide resistance threatens their future. Tracking multiple free-flying Anopheles gambiae responding to human-occupied bed nets in a novel large-scale system, we characterised key behaviours and events. Four behavioural modes with different levels of net contact were defined: swooping, visiting, bouncing and resting. Approximately 75% of all activity occurred at the bed net roof where multiple brief contacts were focussed above the occupant’s torso. Total flight and net contact times were lower at LLINs than untreated nets but the essential character of the response was unaltered. LLINs did not repel mosquitoes but impacted rapidly: LLIN contact of less than 1 minute per mosquito during the first ten minutes reduced subsequent activity; after thirty minutes, activity at LLINs was negligible. Velocity measurements showed that mosquitoes detected nets, including unbaited untreated nets, prior to contact. This is the most complete characterisation of mosquito-LLIN interactions to date, and reveals many aspects of LLIN mode of action, important for developing the next generation of LLINs.

Concepts: Malaria, Anopheles, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Vector, Insect repellent, Anopheles gambiae, Mosquito net


Many vectors of malaria and other infections spend most of their adult life within human homes, the environment where they bloodfeed and rest, and where control has been most successful. Yet, knowledge of peri-domestic mosquito behaviour is limited, particularly how mosquitoes find and attack human hosts or how insecticides impact on behaviour. This is partly because technology for tracking mosquitoes in their natural habitats, traditional dwellings in disease-endemic countries, has never been available. We describe a sensing device that enables observation and recording of nocturnal mosquitoes attacking humans with or without a bed net, in the laboratory and in rural Africa. The device addresses requirements for sub-millimetre resolution over a 2.0 × 1.2 × 2.0 m volume while using minimum irradiance. Data processing strategies to extract individual mosquito trajectories and algorithms to describe behaviour during host/net interactions are introduced. Results from UK laboratory and Tanzanian field tests showed thatCulex quinquefasciatusactivity was higher and focused on the bed net roof when a human host was present, in colonized and wild populations. BothC. quinquefasciatusandAnopheles gambiaeexhibited similar behavioural modes, with average flight velocities varying by less than 10%. The system offers considerable potential for investigations in vector biology and many other fields.

Concepts: Malaria, Anopheles, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Natural environment, Behavior, Insect repellent, Mosquito net


BACKGROUND: In 2011, Cameroon and its health partners distributed over eight million free long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) in an effort to reduce the significant morbidity and mortality burden of malaria in the country. A national communications campaign was launched in July 2011 to ensure that as the nets were delivered, they would be used consistently to close a net use gap: only 51.6% of adults and 63.4% of their children in households with at least one net were sleeping under nets before the distribution. Even in households with at least one net for every two people, over 35% of adults were not sleeping under a net. Malaria No More (MNM) adapted its signature NightWatch communications programme to fit within the coordinated “KO Palu” (Knock Out Malaria) national campaign. This study evaluates the impact of KO Palu NightWatch activities (that is, the subset of KO Palu-branded communications that were funded by MNM’s NightWatch program) on bed net use. METHODS: Using national survey data collected at baseline (in March/April 2011, before the national LLIN distribution and KO Palu NightWatch launch) and post-intervention (March/April 2012), this study evaluates the impact of exposure to KO Palu NightWatch activities on last-night net use by Cameroonian adults and their children under five. First, a plausible case for causality was established by comparing net use in 2011 and 2012 and measuring exposure to KO Palu NightWatch; next, a propensity score matching (PSM) model was used to estimate the impact of exposure on net use by simulating a randomized control trial; finally, the model was tested for sensitivity to unmeasured factors. RESULTS: The PSM model estimated that among Cameroonians with at least one net in their household, exposure to KO Palu NightWatch activities was associated with a 6.6 percentage point increase in last-night net use among respondents (65.7% vs 59.1%, p < 0.05) and a 12.0 percentage point increase in last-night net use among respondents' children under five (79.6% vs 67.6%, p < 0.025). Sensitivity analysis suggests only a very small risk of bias from omitted factors influencing exposure and net use. CONCLUSIONS: Extrapolating the results of the PSM model to the population of Cameroonians with access to at least one mosquito net, this analysis estimates that approximately 298,000 adults and over 221,000 of their children under five slept under a bed net because of the knowledge, motivation, and/or timely reminder provided by KO Palu NightWatch activities. The programme cost less than $0.16 per adult reached, and less than $1.62 per additional person protected by a net. The results suggest a strong role for mass media communication interventions in support of investments in malaria control commodities such as LLINs.

Concepts: Malaria, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Propensity score, Insect repellent, Mass media, Knockout, Mosquito net


Animal species adapt to changes in their environment, including man-made changes such as the introduction of insecticides, through selection for advantageous genes already present in populations or newly arisen through mutation. A possible alternative mechanism is the acquisition of adaptive genes from related species via a process known as adaptive introgression. Differing levels of insecticide resistance between two African malaria vectors, Anopheles coluzzii and Anopheles gambiae, have been attributed to assortative mating between the two species. In a previous study, we reported two bouts of hybridization observed in the town of Selinkenyi, Mali in 2002 and 2006. These hybridization events did not appear to be directly associated with insecticide-resistance genes. We demonstrate that during a brief breakdown in assortative mating in 2006, A. coluzzii inherited the entire A. gambiae-associated 2L divergence island, which includes a suite of insecticide-resistance alleles. In this case, introgression was coincident with the start of a major insecticide-treated bed net distribution campaign in Mali. This suggests that insecticide exposure altered the fitness landscape, favoring the survival of A. coluzzii/A. gambiae hybrids, and provided selection pressure that swept the 2L divergence island through A. coluzzii populations in Mali. We propose that the work described herein presents a unique description of the temporal dynamics of adaptive introgression in an animal species and represents a mechanism for the rapid evolution of insecticide resistance in this important vector of human malaria in Africa.

Concepts: Gene, Evolution, Biology, Malaria, Anopheles, Mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, Mosquito net


In spite of massive progress in the control of African malaria since the turn of the century, there is a clear and recognized need for additional tools beyond long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) of insecticides, to progress towards elimination. Moreover, widespread and intensifying insecticide resistance requires alternative control agents and delivery systems to enable development of effective insecticide resistance management strategies. This series of articles presents a novel concept for malaria vector control, the ‘eave tube’, which may fulfil these important criteria. From its conceptualization to laboratory and semi-field testing, to demonstration of potential for implementation, the stepwise development of this new vector control approach is described. These studies suggest eave tubes (which comprise a novel way of delivering insecticides plus screening to make the house more ‘mosquito proof’) could be a viable, cost-effective, and acceptable control tool for endophilic and endophagic anophelines, and possibly other (nuisance) mosquitoes. The approach could be applicable in a wide variety of housing in sub-Saharan Africa, and possibly beyond, for vectors that use the eave as their primary house entry point. The results presented in these articles were generated during an EU-FP7 funded project, the mosquito contamination device (MCD) project, which ran between 2012 and 2015. This was a collaborative project undertaken by vector biologists, product developers, modellers, materials scientists, and entrepreneurs from five different countries.

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Pesticide, DDT, Mosquito net


Insecticide-treated nets are the primary method of preventing malaria. To remain effective, the pyrethroid insecticide must withstand multiple washes over the lifetime of the net. ICON® Maxx is a ‘dip-it-yourself’ kit for long-lasting treatment of polyester nets. The twin-sachet kit contains a slow-release capsule suspension of lambda-cyhalothrin plus binding agent. To determine whether ICON Maxx meets the standards required by the World Health Organization Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (WHOPES), the efficacy and wash fastness of ICON Maxx was evaluated against wild, free-flying anopheline mosquitoes.

Concepts: Malaria, Mosquito, Yellow fever, World Health Organization, DDT, Pyrethroid, Insect repellent, Mosquito net


Evidence of changing in biting and resting behaviour of the main malaria vectors has been mounting up in recent years as a result of selective pressure by the widespread and long-term use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), and indoor residual spraying. The impact of resistance behaviour on malaria intervention efficacy has important implications for the epidemiology and malaria control programmes. In this context, a theoretical framework is presented to understand the mechanisms determining the evolution of feeding behaviour under the pressure of use of ITNs.

Concepts: Natural selection, Malaria, Randomized controlled trial, Anopheles, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Vector, Mosquito net