Malaria still represents one of the top causes of death worldwide. We are seeking novel ways to control mosquitoes and prevent malaria through innovative housing design
In collaboration with partners in Europe and Africa, researchers at CIDD are investigating a new method for preventing the transmission of malaria. The method involves limiting mosquito access to houses by blocking openings and installing "eave tubes" that contain a unique type of insecticide-laced mosquito netting developed by Dutch partner In2Care that kills the insects as they attempt to enter.
"Nearly half of the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria, and according to the most recent World Health Organization report, an estimated 438,000 people died from the disease in 2015," said team leader Matthew Thomas, professor and Huck Scholar in Ecological Entomology, Penn State. "The use of insecticides to control mosquitoes has saved millions of lives, but this tactic is increasingly challenged because mosquitoes quickly evolve resistance to the very limited number of insecticides currently used in public health. The eave tube approach presents a novel strategy to help combat this challenge by simultaneously making houses more mosquito proof and providing a novel way of delivering insecticides, which creates opportunities for using a wider range of insecticidal products."
According to Thomas, African malaria mosquitoes have a strong preference for entering houses at night through eaves -- the gaps between the roofs and the walls of houses. The team's novel eave-tube approach involves blocking the eaves and inserting tubes that act like chimneys to funnel human odors to the exterior of the home.
"The small amount of insecticide used in the tubes means that it is cheap to treat an entire house," said Thomas. "Furthermore, retreatment is easy, as it requires simple replacement of small pieces of netting within the tubes.”
"There has been a marked reduction in malaria burden in many parts of the world over the last 15 years. Keeping this momentum going requires new tools than can be put into place in the short term to help deal with the problem of insecticide resistance. This is what eave tubes offer."