Background: Most people infected with malaria acquire the infection indoors from mosquito vectors that entered the house through open eaves, windows and doors. Structural house improvement (e.g. closed eaves and screened windows) is an established method of reducing mosquito entry. It could be complementary to other interventions such as insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) for malaria control because it covers and protects all individuals in a house equally. However, when implemented at a large scale, house improvement may not be employed optimally. It is therefore critical to assess whether partial house improvement will have any effect on mosquito house entry. We investigated the effect of partial and complete eave closure on the house-entry rates of malaria vectors and other mosquitoes in southern Malawi. Methods: The study was conducted for 25 nights in May-June 2016. Twenty-five traditional houses were modified according to five treatments: fully closed eaves, three different levels of partially closed eaves, and open eaves. All houses had fully screened windows and closed doors. Host-seeking mosquitoes were sampled inside these houses using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) light traps. The effect of open eaves versus partial or complete eave closure on the number of mosquitoes trapped inside the house was estimated using a generalized linear mixed model fitted with Poisson distribution and a log-link function. Results: House entry by malaria vectors was 14-times higher in houses with fully open eaves compared to houses with fully closed eaves adjusting for wall-type, number of people that slept in the house the previous night, cooking locations and presence of livestock. Houses with four small openings had 9 times more malaria vectors compared to houses with fully closed eaves. The catches of culicine mosquitoes caught in houses with fully closed eaves were not different from those caught in houses with the other treatments. Conclusions: Closed eaves resulted in fewer malaria vectors in houses, with differences depending on the degree of eave closure. The ability of malaria vectors to locate any remaining entry points on improved houses, as demonstrated here, suggests that quality control must be an important component of implementing house improvement as an intervention.The lack of effect on culicine mosquitoes in this study could reduce acceptance of house improvement, as implemented here, by household residents due to continued nuisance biting. This limitation could be addressed through community engagement (e.g. encouraging people to close their doors early in the evenings) or improved designs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases