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Open Access Research

Target product profile choices for intra-domiciliary malaria vector control pesticide products: repel or kill?

Gerry F Killeen12*, Nakul Chitnis34, Sarah J Moore15 and Fredros O Okumu15

Author Affiliations

1 Biomedical & Environmental Thematic Group, Ifakara Health Institute, PO Box 53, Ifakara, Kilombero District, Morogoro Region, Tanzania

2 Vector Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA, UK

3 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

4 University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

5 Department of Infectious Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

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Malaria Journal 2011, 10:207  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-207

Published: 28 July 2011

Abstract

Background

The most common pesticide products for controlling malaria-transmitting mosquitoes combine two distinct modes of action: 1) conventional insecticidal activity which kills mosquitoes exposed to the pesticide and 2) deterrence of mosquitoes away from protected humans. While deterrence enhances personal or household protection of long-lasting insecticidal nets and indoor residual sprays, it may also attenuate or even reverse communal protection if it diverts mosquitoes to non-users rather than killing them outright.

Methods

A process-explicit model of malaria transmission is described which captures the sequential interaction between deterrent and toxic actions of vector control pesticides and accounts for the distinctive impacts of toxic activities which kill mosquitoes before or after they have fed upon the occupant of a covered house or sleeping space.

Results

Increasing deterrency increases personal protection but consistently reduces communal protection because deterrent sub-lethal exposure inevitably reduces the proportion subsequently exposed to higher lethal doses. If the high coverage targets of the World Health Organization are achieved, purely toxic products with no deterrence are predicted to generally provide superior protection to non-users and even users, especially where vectors feed exclusively on humans and a substantial amount of transmission occurs outdoors. Remarkably, this is even the case if that product confers no personal protection and only kills mosquitoes after they have fed.

Conclusions

Products with purely mosquito-toxic profiles may, therefore, be preferable for programmes with universal coverage targets, rather than those with equivalent toxicity but which also have higher deterrence. However, if purely mosquito-toxic products confer little personal protection because they do not deter mosquitoes and only kill them after they have fed, then they will require aggressive "catch up" campaigns, with behaviour change communication strategies that emphasize the communal nature of protection, to achieve high coverage rapidly.