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Exploring the potential of using cattle for malaria vector surveillance and control: a pilot study in western Kenya

Njoroge, M.M.; Tirados, I.; Lindsay, S.W.; Vale, G.A.; Torr, S.J.; Fillinger, U.

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M.M. Njoroge

I. Tirados

G.A. Vale

S.J. Torr

U. Fillinger


Background Malaria vector mosquitoes with exophilic and zoophilic tendencies, or with a high acceptance of alternative blood meal sources when preferred human blood-hosts are unavailable, may help maintain low but constant malaria transmission in areas where indoor vector control has been scaled up. This residual transmission might be addressed by targeting vectors outside the house. Here we investigated the potential of insecticide-treated cattle, as routinely used for control of tsetse and ticks in East Africa, for mosquito control. Methods The malaria vector population in the study area was investigated weekly for 8 months using two different trapping tools: light traps indoors and cattle-baited traps (CBTs) outdoors. The effect of the application of the insecticide deltamethrin and the acaricide amitraz on cattle on host-seeking Anopheles arabiensis was tested experimentally in field-cages and the impact of deltamethrin-treated cattle explored under field conditions on mosquito densities on household level. Results CBTs collected on average 2.8 (95% CI: 1.8–4.2) primary [Anopheles gambiae (s.s.), An. arabiensis and An. funestus (s.s.)] and 6.3 (95% CI: 3.6–11.3) secondary malaria vectors [An. ivulorum and An. coustani (s.l.)] per trap night and revealed a distinct, complementary seasonality. At the same time on average only 1.4 (95% CI: 0.8–2.3) primary and 1.1 (95% CI: 0.6–2.0) secondary malaria vectors were collected per trap night with light traps indoors. Amitraz had no effect on survival of host-seeking An. arabiensis under experimental conditions but deltamethrin increased mosquito mortality (OR 19, 95% CI: 7–50), but only for 1 week. In the field, vector mortality in association with deltamethrin treatment was detected only with CBTs and only immediately after the treatment (OR 0.25, 95% CI: 0.13–0.52). Conclusions Entomological sampling with CBTs highlights that targeting cattle for mosquito control has potential since it would not only target naturally zoophilic malaria vectors but also opportunistic feeders that lack access to human hosts as is expected in residual malaria transmission settings. However, the deltamethrin formulation tested here although used widely to treat cattle for tsetse and tick control, is not suitable for the control of malaria vectors since it causes only moderate initial mortality and has little residual activity.


Njoroge, M., Tirados, I., Lindsay, S., Vale, G., Torr, S., & Fillinger, U. (2017). Exploring the potential of using cattle for malaria vector surveillance and control: a pilot study in western Kenya. Parasites and Vectors, 10(1), Article 18.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 23, 2016
Online Publication Date Jan 10, 2017
Publication Date Jan 10, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 3, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 23, 2017
Journal Parasites and Vectors
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Article Number 18


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© The Author(s). 2017 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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