Evaluation of mosquito electrocuting traps as a safe alternative to the human landing catch for measuring human exposure to malaria vectors in Burkina Faso

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Abstract

Background: Measuring human exposure to mosquito bites is a crucial component of vector-borne disease surveillance. For malaria vectors, the human landing catch (HLC) remains the gold standard for direct estimation of exposure. This method, however, is controversial since participants risk exposure to potentially infected mosquito bites. Recently an exposure-free mosquito electrocuting trap (MET) was developed to provide a safer alternative to the HLC. Early prototypes of the MET performed well in Tanzania but have yet to be tested in West Africa, where malaria vector species composition, ecology and behaviour are different. The performance of the MET relative to HLC for characterizing mosquito vector population dynamics and biting behaviour in Burkina Faso was evaluated. Methods: A longitudinal study was initiated within 12 villages in Burkina Faso in October 2016. Host-seeking mosquitoes were sampled monthly using HLC and MET collections over 14 months. Collections were made at 4 households on each night, with METs deployed inside and outside at 2 houses, and HLC inside and outside at another two. Malaria vector abundance, species composition, sporozoite rate and location of biting (indoor versus outdoor) were recorded. Results: In total, 41,800 mosquitoes were collected over 324 sampling nights, with the major malaria vector being Anopheles gambiae sensu lato (s.l.) complex. Overall the MET caught fewer An. gambiae s.l. than the HLC (mean predicted number of 0.78 versus 1.82 indoors, and 1.05 versus 2.04 outdoors). However, MET collections gave a consistent representation of seasonal dynamics in vector populations, species composition, biting behaviour (location and time) and malaria infection rates relative to HLC. As the relative performance of the MET was somewhat higher in outdoor versus indoor settings, this trapping method slightly underestimated the proportion of bites preventable by LLINs compared to the HLC (MET = 82.08%; HLC = 87.19%). Conclusions: The MET collected proportionately fewer mosquitoes than the HLC. However, estimates of An. gambiae s.l. density in METs were highly correlated with HLC. Thus, although less sensitive, the MET is a safer alternative than the HLC. Its use is recommended particularly for sampling vectors in outdoor environments where it is most sensitive.

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Sanou, A., Moussa Guelbéogo, W., Nelli, L., Hyacinth Toé, K., Zongo, S., Ouédraogo, P., … Ferguson, H. M. (2019). Evaluation of mosquito electrocuting traps as a safe alternative to the human landing catch for measuring human exposure to malaria vectors in Burkina Faso. Malaria Journal, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-019-3030-5

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