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A Modified Experimental Hut Design for Studying Responses of Disease-Transmitting Mosquitoes to Indoor Interventions: The Ifakara Experimental Huts
Published: Thursday, February 09, 2012
Author: Fredros O. Okumu et al.

by Fredros O. Okumu, Jason Moore, Edgar Mbeyela, Mark Sherlock, Robert Sangusangu, Godfrey Ligamba, Tanya Russell, Sarah J. Moore

Differences between individual human houses can confound results of studies aimed at evaluating indoor vector control interventions such as insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual insecticide spraying (IRS). Specially designed and standardised experimental huts have historically provided a solution to this challenge, with an added advantage that they can be fitted with special interception traps to sample entering or exiting mosquitoes. However, many of these experimental hut designs have a number of limitations, for example: 1) inability to sample mosquitoes on all sides of huts, 2) increased likelihood of live mosquitoes flying out of the huts, leaving mainly dead ones, 3) difficulties of cleaning the huts when a new insecticide is to be tested, and 4) the generally small size of the experimental huts, which can misrepresent actual local house sizes or airflow dynamics in the local houses. Here, we describe a modified experimental hut design - The Ifakara Experimental Huts- and explain how these huts can be used to more realistically monitor behavioural and physiological responses of wild, free-flying disease-transmitting mosquitoes, including the African malaria vectors of the species complexes Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus, to indoor vector control-technologies including ITNs and IRS. Important characteristics of the Ifakara experimental huts include: 1) interception traps fitted onto eave spaces and windows, 2) use of eave baffles (panels that direct mosquito movement) to control exit of live mosquitoes through the eave spaces, 3) use of replaceable wall panels and ceilings, which allow safe insecticide disposal and reuse of the huts to test different insecticides in successive periods, 4) the kit format of the huts allowing portability and 5) an improved suite of entomological procedures to maximise data quality.