Can trials of spatial repellents be used to estimate mosquito movement?

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Background: Knowledge of mosquito movement would aid the design of effective intervention strategies against malaria. However, data on mosquito movement through mark-recapture or genetics studies are challenging to collect, and so are not available for many sites. An additional source of information may come from secondary analyses of data from trials of repellents where household mosquito densities are collected. Using the study design of published trials, we developed a statistical model which can be used to estimate the movement between houses for mosquitoes displaced by a spatial repellent. The method uses information on the different distributions of mosquitoes between houses when no households are using spatial repellents compared to when there is incomplete coverage. The parameters to be estimated are the proportion of mosquitoes repelled, the proportion of those repelled that go to another house and the mean distance of movement between houses. Estimation is by maximum likelihood. Results: We evaluated the method using simulation and found that data on the seasonal pattern of mosquito densities were required, which could be additionally collected during a trial. The method was able to provide accurate estimates from simulated data, except when the setting has few mosquitoes overall, few repelled, or the coverage with spatial repellent is low. The trial that motivated our analysis was found to have too few mosquitoes caught and repelled for our method to provide accurate results. Conclusions: We propose that the method could be used as a secondary analysis of trial data to gain estimates of mosquito movement in the presence of repellents for trials with sufficient numbers of mosquitoes caught and repelled and with coverage levels which allow sufficient numbers of houses with and without repellent. Estimates from this method may supplement those from mark-release-recapture studies, and be used in designing effective malaria intervention strategies, parameterizing mathematical models and in designing trials of vector control interventions.




Malinga, J., Maia, M., Moore, S., & Ross, A. (2019). Can trials of spatial repellents be used to estimate mosquito movement? Parasites and Vectors, 12(1).

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