New treated bed nets halve malaria cases in children in East Africa

April 8, 2022
New treated bed nets halve malaria cases in children in East Africa

A joint study has revealed bed nets treated with a new kind of insecticide significantly reduced malaria cases in Tanzanian children. Bed nets are an effective strategy against the mosquitoes which spread malaria – however, the critters have increasingly developed resistance to the insecticide currently in use.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the National Institute for Medical Research and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College in Tanzania, and the University of Ottawa in Canada have shown that a new insecticide, treated with a combination chlorfenapyr and pyrethroid, reduced malaria prevalence by 43% in the first year and 37% in the second year of a randomised trial.

[The trial involved more than 39,000 households and followed over 4,500 children aged 6 months to 14 years old in Tanzania.]

Chlorfenapyr works differently than pyrethroid, the chemical used currently. Chlorfenapyr causes wing cramps in the mosquitoes and makes them unable to fly or bite, thereby stopping the spread of infection. The chemical was first proposed for use against malaria 20 years ago, and has been used for pest control since the 1990s.

The nets developed by chemical company BASF in Germany, and LSHTM, are marginally more expensive than the current nets, but could prove instrumental in the fight against malaria, alongside the World Health Organization-approved malaria vaccine.

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