Factors affecting the propensity of tsetse flies to enter houses and attack humans inside: increased risk of sleeping sickness in warmer climates

25 Apr 2013
Vale GA, Hargrove JW, Chamisa A, Hall DR, Mangwiro C, Torr SJ.

To identify factors affecting the contact between tsetse and humans in buildings, we caught tsetse that (i) accumulated in a large thatched house in Zimbabwe, and (ii) alighted on humans in the house during the day. In accord with earlier work, the numbers accumulating increased about 10-fold with rising ambient temperature. However, it was surprising that the numbers were unaffected by the presence of humans or artificial human odor in the house, or by wood smoke or a simulation of ox odor, since these factors can affect greatly the catches at baits in woodland. Tsetse that alighted on humans in the house contained a high proportion of those classes of tsetse that seldom alight on humans. Some of the alighting flies were old enough to be vectors of sleeping sickness. Our results emphasize that buildings are venues for important and distinctive contact between humans and tsetse, and that the risk of disease transmission there may be greater in warmer climates.