UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new type of housing modification can reduce malaria incidence among children by around 40-50%, according to an international team of researchers. 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.
“Eighty percent of malaria transmission happens at night when people are in their homes,” said Matthew Thomas, an academic affiliate in entomology at Penn State, who led the research. “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.”
Thomas, also the director of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute at the University of York, and his colleagues evaluated a type of lethal house lure in which screening was added to windows and doors, and pieces of PVC pipe (typically 8-10 per house) were inserted into the eaves of the house where the wall joins the roof. These ventilation tubes were, in turn, fitted with screened inserts laced with insecticides, creating a novel targeted insecticide delivery system called the In2Care EaveTube. The team’s goal was to determine if this combination of screening plus EaveTubes (referred to as SET) would reduce exposure to malaria mosquitoes and, thereby, reduce clinical malaria incidence over two years in children ages 6 months to 10 years living in central Côte d’Ivoire.