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Adding Screens To Homes Can Cut Malaria Risk, Study Says

A study conducted in the Republic of The Gambia found that adding screens to the windows and doors of houses can help reduce the number of malaria-carrying mosquitoes inside and prevent anaemia in children, CBCnews.ca reports (9/2).

For the study, which was published in the journal Lancet, the “researchers used two methods to prevent mosquitoes from entering the houses. In the first, screens were attached to windows and doors, and holes in the eaves were closed. The second method was to place a net ceiling inside the house. They then set traps for the insects to enable them to count how many mosquitoes that made it through the screens,” according to a Durham University press release.

Both interventions were found to significantly decrease malaria transmission and led to 50 percent fewer anaemic children in the screened groups compared to those living in unscreened homes. “House screening is particularly effective since 80 percent of malaria transmission occurs when people are bitten by the mosquito vector, Anopheles gambiae, indoors at night,” the release writes (9/3).

Since house screens do not rely on insecticides, it could be a beneficial intervention in areas where insecticide resistance develops, the study’s authors said. They “advocated house screening to augment rather than replace insecticide-treated bed nets,” CBCnews.ca writes.

In a related commentary, Laurence Slutsker and John Gimnig of the CDC, wrote that in the U.S., Europe and Tanzania, screens in homes might have boosted malaria control and elimination more than previously figured (9/2).  

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.