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Open Access Research article

Chemical and environmental vector control as a contribution to the elimination of visceral leishmaniasis on the Indian subcontinent: cluster randomized controlled trials in Bangladesh, India and Nepal

Anand B Joshi1*, Murari L Das2, Shireen Akhter3, Rajib Chowdhury3, Dinesh Mondal4, Vijay Kumar5, Pradeep Das5, Axel Kroeger67, Marleen Boelaert8 and Max Petzold109

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

2 BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal

3 NIPSOM, Mohakhali, Dhaka, Bangladesh

4 ICDDRB, Dhaka, Bangladesh

5 RMRIMS (ICMR) Patna-800 007, India

6 Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

7 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK

8 Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium

9 Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden

10 Statistical Research Unit, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden

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BMC Medicine 2009, 7:54  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-7-54

Published: 5 October 2009

Abstract

Background

Bangladesh, India and Nepal are working towards the elimination of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) by 2015. In 2005 the World Health Organization/Training in Tropical Diseases launched an implementation research programme to support integrated vector management for the elimination of VL from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The programme is conducted in different phases, from proof-of-concept to scaling up intervention. This study was designed in order to evaluate the efficacy of the three different interventions for VL vector management: indoor residual spraying (IRS); long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLIN); and environmental modification (EVM) through plastering of walls with lime or mud.

Methods

Using a cluster randomized controlled trial we compared three vector control interventions with a control arm in 96 clusters (hamlets or neighbourhoods) in each of the 4 study sites: Bangladesh (one), India (one) and Nepal (two). In each site four villages with high reported VL incidences were included. In each village six clusters and in each cluster five households were randomly selected for sand fly collection on two consecutive nights. Control and intervention clusters were matched with average pre-intervention vector densities.

In each site six clusters were randomly assigned to each of the following interventions: indoor residual spraying (IRS); long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLIN); environmental management (EVM) or control. All the houses (50-100) in each intervention cluster underwent the intervention measures. A reduction of intra-domestic sand fly densities measured in the study households by overnight US Centres for Disease Prevention and Control light trap captures (that is the number of sand flies per trap per night) was the main outcome measure.

Results

IRS, and to a lesser extent EVM and LLINs, significantly reduced sand fly densities for at least 5 months in the study households irrespective of type of walls or whether or not people shared their house with cattle. IRS was effective in all sites but LLINs were only effective in Bangladesh and India. Mud plastering did not reduce sand fly density (Bangladesh study); lime plastering in India and one Nepali site, resulted in a significant reduction of sand fly density but not in the second Nepali site.

Conclusion

Sand fly control can contribute to the regional VL elimination programme; IRS should be strengthened in India and Nepal but in Bangladesh, where vector control has largely been abandoned during the last decades, the insecticide treatment of existing bed nets (coverage above 90% in VL endemic districts) could bring about an immediate reduction of vector populations; operational research to inform policy makers about the efficacious options for VL vector control and programme performance should be strengthened in the three countries.