New Research Finds Lethal house lures reduce incidence of malaria in children

News | Posted on Friday 26 February 2021

Research led by YESI Director Professor Matt Thomas shows that a new type of housing modification can reduce malaria incidence among children by around 40-50%

Credit: Daniel Lesher, Penn State.
Credit: Daniel Lesher, Penn State.

The intervention uses window screening, together with PVC tubes fitted with insecticide-laced screens and installed under the eaves of homes, as a novel method of killing malaria mosquitoes as they attempt to enter the house. By combining a physical barrier plus an insecticide, the housing modification both blocks and kills mosquitoes, thereby protecting not only the people living inside, but also the community at-large. The findings appeared in The Lancet on the 25 Feb.

“Eighty percent of malaria transmission happens at night when people are in their homes. Insecticide-treated bed nets have been shown to reduce malaria and are probably one of the most important public health tools in sub-Saharan Africa. But they need to be replaced every three years and many people don’t have access to them, or don’t use them properly. In this study, we essentially elevated the concept of an insecticide-treated bed net to the level of the house. We demonstrate that turning the house itself into a ‘lure and kill’ device significantly reduces incidence of malaria infection among children, even in areas where malaria-carrying mosquitoes are highly resistant to the insecticides that are most commonly used on bed nets.”

said Professor Matt Thomas, YESI Director and an academic affiliate in entomology at Penn State, who led the research. 

Man installing eaves tubes

Rapid economic and population growth in sub-Saharan Africa means that millions of new houses will be built in the coming decades and millions more existing houses will be retrofitted with new roofs and other features. Economic analysis researchers undertook suggests a combination of screening plus EaveTubes. referred to as SET, is an attractive option for improving population health in Côte d’Ivoire and is similar in cost-effectiveness to other core vector control interventions used across sub-Saharan Africa.

This was a multidisciplinary project, comprising epidemiologists, entomologists, social scientists and economists, would not have been possible without the efforts of around 50 Ivorian project staff — including scientists, technicians, medical personnel and even drivers — and nearly 900 volunteers from the study villages.

Eleanore Sternberg, who managed the project and lived in Côte d’Ivoire for the duration (now a programme manager at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine), said that

“This project was an opportunity to interact with some extraordinary people to do something that we hope will make a difference in the world. That’s why we did the work.”

 

About this research

This paper called "Impact and cost-effectiveness of a lethal house lure against malaria transmission in central Côte d’Ivoire: a two-arm, cluster-randomised controlled trial" was published in The Lancet on 25 Feb 2021 and was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a grant to Penn State.