Scientists design novel bed net as new tool in malaria fight

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-12 14:18:26|Editor: xuxin
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LONDON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- A bed net designed to kill insecticide-resistant mosquitoes could prevent millions of cases of malaria across sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new research published Friday in the general medical journal The Lancet.

A two-year clinical trial in the western African country of Burkina Faso showed that bed nets containing a combination of chemicals resulted in a 12-percent reduction in clinical malaria cases, compared with conventional bed nets.

The findings demonstrate an "improved and new" tool in the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria control "has stalled, partly because the mosquitoes are adapting and becoming resistant to the pyrethroid insecticides used for treating the old bed nets," said Steve Lindsay, a professor in the department of biosciences at Durham University, who worked on the study.

During the study, conventional bed nets were replaced with combination nets doused with a pyrethroid insecticide and insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen in 40 rural areas in Burkina Faso covering 91 villages and involving 1,980 children aged between six months and five years in 2014 and 2,157 in 2015.

The novel nets combining a pyrethroid, which repels and kills the mosquitoes, with pyriproxyfen, which shortens the lives of mosquitoes and reduces their ability to reproduce, kill more mosquitoes and reduce the number of infective bites than conventional nets treated only with a pyrethroid, according to Lindsay.

Mosquitoes are less likely to develop resistance to both chemicals, so the combination nets are a better alternative in areas with intense malaria transmission.

"Malaria still kills a child every two minutes," said Lindsay, adding that "If we had scaled up our trial to the whole of Burkina Faso we would have reduced the number of malaria cases by 1.2 million."

The latest figures from the World Health Organisation show that in 2016, malaria infected about 216 million people globally, an increase of 5 million from the previous year. Burkina Faso, with more than 10 million cases of malaria annually, is one of the 20 sub-Saharan countries where malaria cases increased between 2015 and 2016.

The study resulted from a collaboration of scientists from the British Durham University and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Burkina Faso's Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme, as well as the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

It also found that using the nets resulted in a 51-percent reduction in overall exposure to mosquitoes, and a 52-percent reduction in moderate anaemia among children, compared with a conventional net.

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by parasites affecting people though mosquito bites. The researchers stress that people in affected areas should always sleep under a bed net, whether that is a conventional or a combination type.