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Comparative assessment of diverse strategies for malaria vector population control based on measured rates at which mosquitoes utilize targeted resource subsets
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    Background

    Eliminating malaria requires vector control interventions that dramatically reduce adult mosquito population densities and survival rates. Indoor applications of insecticidal nets and sprays are effective against an important minority of mosquito species that rely heavily upon human blood and habitations for survival. However, complementary approaches are needed to tackle a broader diversity of less human-specialized vectors by killing them at other resource targets.

    Methods

    Impacts of strategies that target insecticides to humans or animals can be rationalized in terms of biological coverage of blood resources, quantified as proportional coverage of all blood resources mosquito vectors utilize. Here, this concept is adapted to enable impact prediction for diverse vector control strategies based on measurements of utilization rates for any definable, targetable resource subset, even if that overall resource is not quantifiable.

    Results

    The usefulness of this approach is illustrated by deriving utilization rate estimates for various blood, resting site, and sugar resource subsets from existing entomological survey data. Reported impacts of insecticidal nets upon human-feeding vectors, and insecticide-treated livestock upon animal-feeding vectors, are approximately consistent with model predictions based on measured utilization rates for those human and animal blood resource subsets. Utilization rates for artificial sugar baits compare well with blood resources, and are consistent with observed impact when insecticide is added. While existing data was used to indirectly measure utilization rates for a variety of resting site subsets, by comparison with measured rates of blood resource utilization in the same settings, current techniques for capturing resting mosquitoes underestimate this quantity, and reliance upon complex models with numerous input parameters may limit the applicability of this approach.

    Conclusions

    While blood and sugar consumption can be readily quantified using existing methods for detecting natural markers or artificial tracers, improved techniques for labelling mosquitoes, or other arthropod pathogen vectors, will be required to assess vector control measures which target them when they utilize non-nutritional resources such as resting, oviposition, and mating sites.

    Electronic supplementary material

    The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-338) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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