Fredros Okumu

Using low-cost mosquito-repellent chairs to provide day and night protection against mosquito-borne illness

Principal investigator

Fredros Okumu

Ifakara Health Institute, P. O. Box 53, Ifakara, Morogoro, Tanzania

Co-investigators

  1. John Paliga Masalu

  2. Gerry Killeen

  3. Marcelina Finda

  4. Halfan Ngowo

Ifakara Health Institute, P. O. Box 53, Ifakara, Morogoro, Tanzania

Lay Summary

Despite substantial declines in malaria burden over the past 15 years, mostly achieved by vector control inside houses with long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS), substantial residual transmission persists because many vector mosquitoes can bite people outdoors where these interventions offer no direct protection. Nevertheless, mosquito bite exposure could also occur while people are indoor before bedtime, when they are eating, socializing, and school children are studying. On the other hand, diseases such as, Zika, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, and Chikungunya; are transmitted by day-biting mosquito called Ae. Aegypti. These vectors are not effectively controlled by the existing tools such as, LLINs and IRS, necessitating the need for additional complementary tool. Recently, our team in Tanzania reformulated the widely-used repellent transfluthrin for use in poor African communities by simply soaking it into widely-available sacking fabric. This new format is much more practical for African settings than existing commercial products with the same active ingredient, because it does not require combustion, like mosquito coils or electricity, like powered emanators. It is also much more affordable because protects people against biting malaria vectors for several months at a time, as compared to hours, days, or at best, weeks for available commercial repellent products. However, the physical format used experimentally would be inconvenient for routine use, so we recently developed a homemade chair design that is fitted with such transfluthrin-treated fabric strips underneath the user’s seat. Furniture is an important component of house improvements in Africa and elsewhere. By targeting the affordable furniture as an aspect of housing improvement, we believe that we can dramatically improve on disease control even in low-income communities. We seek funding support to validate this technology and develop it to scalable level. We will create and test the concept of using repellent furniture as a component of improved housing, with complementary advantage of mosquito control. We will identify the optimal treatment doses and a safe delivery mechanism for repellent chair refills to provide high levels of protection against mosquitoes born-illness, for as long as possible, at an affordable cost.