A neglected aspect of the epidemiology of sleeping sickness: the propensity of the tsetse fly vector to enter houses

28 Feb 2013
Vale GA, Chamisa A, Mangwiro C, Torr SJ.

To explore the nature of houses as venues for the contact between humans and tsetse flies, and hence for the transmission of sleeping sickness, we studied the sex and species composition and physiological condition of samples of tsetse caught in various types of house throughout the day and at different seasons. These aspects of the catches were intermediate between those for traps which caught host-orientated flies and artificial refuges that sampled flies seeking a cool dark resting site. This suggested that some flies entered houses in search of food, and others entered for shelter. Windows seemed about as effective as doors as entry points. Several times more tsetse were found in a large thatched house, compared to smaller houses with asbestos or metal roofs. Many of the tsetse in houses were old enough to be potential vectors of sleeping sickness. Some of the tsetse inside alighted on people that inspected the houses.