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Malar J. 2017 Jun 6;16(1):239. doi: 10.1186/s12936-017-1885-x.

Ivermectin-treated cattle reduces blood digestion, egg production and survival of a free-living population of Anopheles arabiensis under semi-field condition in south-eastern Tanzania.

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Environmental Health and Ecological Sciences Department, Ifakara Health Institute, Off Mlabani Passage, P.O.BOX 53, Ifakara, Morogoro, United Republic of Tanzania.
Environmental Health and Ecological Sciences Department, Ifakara Health Institute, Off Mlabani Passage, P.O.BOX 53, Ifakara, Morogoro, United Republic of Tanzania.
Pest Management Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania.
School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Parktown, Republic of South Africa.



Anopheles arabiensis feed on cattle and contributes to residual transmission of malaria in areas with high coverage of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying in East Africa. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of ivermectin-treated cattle as a complementary vector control tool against population of An. arabiensis under the semi-field conditions in south-eastern Tanzania.


The free-living population of An. arabiensis was allowed to forage on untreated or ivermectin-treated cattle in alternating nights within the semi-field system in south-eastern Tanzania. Fresh blood fed mosquitoes were collected in the morning using mouth aspirators and assessed for their blood meal digestion, egg production, and survivorship. The residual activity of ivermectin-treated cattle was also determined by exposing mosquitoes to the same treatments after every 2 days until day 21 post-treatments. These experiments were replicated 3 times using different individual cattle.


Overall, the ivermectin-treated cattle reduced blood meal digestion in the stomach of An. arabiensis, and their subsequent egg production and survival over time. The ivermectin-treated cattle halved blood meal digestion in mosquitoes, but reduced their egg production for up to 15 days. The ivermectin-treated cattle reduced the survival, and median survival times (1-3 days) of An. arabiensis than control cattle. The daily mortality rates of mosquitoes fed on ivermectin-treated cattle increased by five-fold relative to controls in the first week, and it gradually declined up to 21 days after treatment.


This study demonstrates that long-lasting effects of ivermectin-treated cattle on egg production and survival of An. arabiensis may sustainably suppress their vector density, and reduce residual transmission of malaria. This study suggests that ivermectin-treated non-lactating cattle (i.e. calves, heifers and bulls) could be suitable option for large-scale malaria vector control without limiting consumption of milk and meat by communities in rural settings. Furthermore, simulation models are underway to predict the impact of ivermectin-treated cattle alone, or in combination with LLIN/IRS, the frequency of treatment, and their coverage required to significantly suppress population of An. arabiensis and reduce residual transmission of malaria.


Anopheles arabiensis; Blood-digestion; Cattle; Egg-production; Exophagy; Haematin; Ivermectin; Residual-transmission; Survival; Vector–control; Zoophagy

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