Malaria is one of the most widespread diseases in the world, affecting millions of people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been trying to control or eradicate malaria for decades and it has had notable success in recent years. Even so the disease remains a major killer, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and among children.
One of the most successful WHO initiatives has been the introduction of bed nets, sprayed with insecticide. These protect people from being bitten and reduce the number of indoor malaria mosquitos, by killing them as they come into contact with the nets attracted by the human “live bait”. The initiative has had a noticeable impact on the incidence of malaria but the threat from outdoor mosquitos’ remains. Indoor bed nets are clearly powerless against such varieties, which is particularly problematic given the fact that many rural African communities spend their evenings outdoors where also many children fall asleep and only later are carried inside and put to bed under the nets.
Having followed the success of the SOS initiative, where cattle serve as 'live bait' for tsetse flies, a group of researchers from Liverpool University and the London School of Hygiene wanted to test whether cattle sprayed with insecticide according to the same formulations as used in SOS Uganda might also have a knock-down and mortality effect on malaria-carrying mosquitoes prevalent in an area in Kenya bordering on Lake Victoria. The idea was particularly appealing as there is a strong overlap between malaria prevalence and cattle rearing regions in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
IKARE together with Ceva, decided to sponsor a research study that involved testing the thesis in a number of villages in the target area.
The study began in the autumn of 2013 with base-line sampling and fine-tuning of the test protocols. All children in the test villages were screened for malaria pre and post the study and all children found to be infected with the disease have received treatment. The study has, after some initial and unforeseen delays, now been successfully completed. Its findings, conclusions and recommendations were on January 10, 2017 published in the online journal Parasites and Vectors.