Study Finds High-Tech Bednet Use Monitoring Tool Produces Detailed Data on Daily Usage, Offering a New Tool to Study Declining Efficacy In Malaria Prevention
A new technology sewn into the lining of mosquito-fighting Bednets provides precise, detailed data on household Bednet use, insights that could help answer why the effectiveness of this mainstay of malaria control appears to be waning, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco appearing today in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
A global effort to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets has been credited as a key force driving a dramatic reduction in malaria infections and deaths. But the researchers cited recent studies indicating that bednets may no longer be as effective as previously thought, though exactly why is not clear.
Researchers developed and tested a technology called SmartNet that uses a battery-powered microcontroller connected to a conductive fabric in the bednets to record when they are in use or folded up. Testing in 10 households in rural Uganda over 418 days found average use was relatively high—85 to 90 percent between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., when malaria-carrying mosquitoes are out in force. But usage was also highly variable, with some households using them only half as much as others and in some instances failing to use them at all, increasing risks of malaria.
The researchers hope this kind of automated monitoring can provide an inexpensive, unobtrusive way of tracking household patterns of bednet use. They note that while the search to understand the decline in bednet efficacy has focused on mosquito biting behavior, insecticide resistance and bednet durability, the role of human behavior “is a potentially important and under-researched component” of the problem.
Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology