Cattle and Control of Malaria

Massebo F, Balkew M, Gebre-Michael T, Lindtjorn B. Zoophagic behaviour of anopheline mosquitoes in southwest Ethiopia: opportunity for malaria vector control. Parasites & vectors 2015; 8(1): 645.


Increased understanding of the feeding behaviours of malaria vectors is important to determine the frequency of human-vector contact and to implement effective vector control interventions. Here we assess the relative feeding preferences of Anopheles mosquitoes in relation to cattle and human host abundance in southwest Ethiopia.


We collected female Anopheles mosquitoes bi-weekly using Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) light traps, pyrethrum spray catches (PSCs) and by aspirating from artificial pit shelters, and determined mosquito blood meal origins using a direct enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).


Both Anopheles arabiensis Patton and An. marshalli (Theobald) showed preference of bovine blood meal over humans regardless of higher human population sizes. The relative feeding preference of An. arabiensis on bovine blood meal was 4.7 times higher than that of human blood. Anopheles marshalli was 6 times more likely to feed on bovine blood meal than humans. The HBI of An. arabiensis and An. marshalli significantly varied between the collection methods, whereas the bovine feeding patterns was not substantially influenced by collection methods. Even though the highest HBI of An. arabiensis and An. marshalli was from indoor CDC traps collections, a substantial number of An. arabiensis (65 %) and An. marshalli (63 %) had contact with cattle. Anopheles arabiensis (44 %) and An. marshalli (41 %) had clearly taken bovine blood meals outdoors, but they rested indoors.


Anopheles mosquitoes are zoophagic and mainly feed on bovine blood meals than humans. Hence, it is important to consider treatment of cattle with appropriate insecticide to control the zoophagic malaria vectors in southwest Ethiopia. Systemic insecticides like ivermectin and its member eprinomectin could be investigated to control the pyrethroid insecticides resistant vectors.

Poster GLOBVAC conference 2015

Entomological collections in areas targeted for a cluster randomized controlled trial to prevent malaria in Ethiopia: Results from a pilot study

Oljira Kenea1, Meshesha Balkew1, Teshome Gebre-Micheal1, Taye Gari2, Eskindir Loha2, Wakgari Deressa1,Alemayehu Dessalegn1, Bjarne Robberstad3, Hans J Overgaard4, Bernt Lindtjørn3

1 Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.2HawassaUniversity, Hawassa, Ethiopia. 3University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.4Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway.

Objective  Indoor residual spraying (IRS) and long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) are the core malaria vector control tools in Ethiopia. Combining both in the same household as a vector control strategy is widespread but entomological outcomes of such interventions are little known. This pilot study was carried out to provide basic information about local malaria vector population for effective planning and implementation of IRS and LLINs cluster randomized trial.

Methodology  The study was conducted from June to October 2013 in Adami Tulu district, central Ethiopia. Indoor mosquito collections were done using CDC light traps and pyrethrum spray sheet catches. Outdoor collections were done from artificial pit shelters. Mosquitoes were identified to species by morphological characteristics and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) were carried out to detect the sources of host blood meals and circum-sporozoite proteins. Mosquito longevity was estimated using parity based on dilatation of ovarian tracheoles following dissection. Data were managed and analyzed using SPSS version 20.0 and a p value< 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.

Results  All Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes were confirmed to be An. arabiensis by PCR. Of 232 adult Anopheles mosquitoes collected, An. arabiensis (71.1%) was the predominant species followed by An. pharoensis (21.1%). The overall average Anopheles density varied within and among the villages over the study months. All of the mosquitoes (n = 232) that were analyzed by ELISA were negative for Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax circum-sporozoite proteins. The overall Human Blood Index (69.2%) for An. arabiensis was higher than Bovine Blood Index (38.4%) and it was higher for populations collected indoors (73%) than those collected outdoors (21%). Average longevity of An. arabiensis and An. pharoensis ranged from 7 to 25 and 1.6 to 6.3 days, respectively.

Conclusion  The density of An. arabiensis, the main malaria vector in Ethiopia, varied within and among the villages over the study months. This study provided preliminary information needed for effective planning and implementation of LLINs and IRS combined intervention trial against malaria in Adami Tulu district, central Ethiopia.

Poster on malaria at GLOBVAC 2015 conference

Malaria incidence in areas targeted for a cluster randomised controlled trial to prevent malaria in Ethiopia: Results from a pilot study

Taye Gari1, Eskindir Loha1, Wakgari Deressa 2, Alemayehu Hailu 2, Oljira Kenea 2, Meshesha Balkew2, Teshome Gebremichael 2, Bjarne Robberstad3, Hans J Overgaard 4,5, Bernt Lindtjørn 3
1 Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia. 2 Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 3University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway. 4Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway. 5 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), MIVEGEC, Montpellier, France.

MalTrials project funded by RCN GLOBVAC, Norway (project no. 220554)

Objective  A cluster randomised controlled trial will be carried out in central Ethiopia to evaluate the effect of combining indoor residual spraying (IRS) and long-lasting insecticidal treated nets (LLIN) on reducing malaria incidence. A pilot study was conducted to assess the variation in malaria episodes within and among villages. Information from this pilot study will serve as the baseline and for calculation of a sufficient sample size to detect significant differences in malaria episode between study arms of the trial.

Method  A cohort of 5309 residents from 994 households in 29 villages were followed from August to December, 2013 in Adami Tulu district in central Ethiopia. The villages were selected based on average distance from Ziway lake shore where the majority of malaria mosquito breeding sites are located. A household census was done, followed by weekly home visits to collect malaria related data. Blood samples were taken from febrile patients. Microscopic slide examination was performed for malaria parasite identification. Incidence rate of malaria episodes was calculated.

Results  Only 271 (27.3%) of the households owned at least one insecticidal treated net at the start of the pilot study. The average proportion of residents sleeping under LLIN the night before the visit was 2.7%. Indoor residual spray was carried out in 901 (91.7%) households within one year before the visit. Of 349 persons examined 39(11.2%) were positive for malaria parasite. Plasmodium vivax was the dominant (84.6%) cause of malaria infection. The average incidence of malaria episode was 4.6 (varied among villages from 0 to 23.4 episodes) per 10,000 person weeks of observation. Higher malaria incidence was observed among children under 5, 5-14 years and in villages near the lake shore with 6.8, 6.3 and 8 episodes per 10,000 person weeks, respectively. The intra-cluster-correlation coefficient of malaria episodes was 0.27.

Conclusion  This pilot study showed that the incidence of malaria was higher in villages near the lake shore and in children less than 15 years old than the average incidence rate. The variation in malaria incidence between villages will be considered to calculate an appropriate sample size for the main trial.

Strengthening malaria and climate research in Ethiopia

Lindtjorn-Malaria conference posterLindtjorn B, Loha E, Deressa W, Balkew M, Gebremichael T, Sorteberg A, Woyessa A, Animut A, Diriba K, Massebo F, et al: Strengthening malaria and climate research in Ethiopia. Malaria Journal 2014, 13:P56.

Poster presentation

The project “Ethiopian Malaria Prediction System” implemented from 2007 to 2012 combined new population-based malaria transmission information with climate and land use variability data to develop an early warning tool to predict malaria epidemics in Ethiopia. Scientists from Ethiopia and Norway collaborated to incorporate climate variability and forecast information for malaria epidemics.

Our study shows that the association between weather and malaria is complex. Statistical models can predict malaria for large areas. However, as malaria transmission varies and depends on local environmental conditions, we need to have good and local knowledge about each area. However, weather variability is the main driver of malaria in Ethiopia.

While the generation of precipitation depends on local ascent and cooling of the air, our research provided new data on the transport of moisture into the country that may improve weather forecasting. We developed a new classification of climate zones, have mapped drought episodes in Ethiopia during the last decades, and have improved seasonal weather forecasting. Our hydrology studies show that potential climate change differs among the Ethiopian river basins, with river flows being sensitive to variations in rainfall, and less to temperature changes.

The computer model, Open Malaria Warning, incorporates hydrological, meteorological, mosquito-breeding, land-use data, and cattle densities to find out when and where outbreaks are likely to occur. We validated the model with data for malaria transmission in the highlands and lowlands, characterizing malaria transmission over some years in both highlands and lowlands. This provided us with new knowledge on malaria transmission in Ethiopia, how intense the seasonal transmission is, and how malaria occurs in different populations and areas. Our study showed that indigenous malaria transmission during a non-epidemic year takes place above 2000 m altitude. We also showed the ideal temperature for malaria transmission is about 25°C, underlining that global warming may lead to increased risk of malaria in highland areas, and less in the lowlands with already high average temperatures. However, to validate such models, there is a need for several years of active monitoring of malaria cases and mosquito densities. Unfortunately, such data is rare in Africa, and we need to invest in long-term monitoring of malaria transmission.

Lindtjorn-Malaria conference poster

Malaria Prevention trial

MalTrials-poster-Challenges in Malaria Research1Deressa W, Loha E, Balkew M, Desalegne A, Gari T, Gebremichael T, Kenea O, Jima D, Robberstad B, Overgaard H, Lindtjorn B: Combining long-lasting insecticidal nets and indoor residual spraying for malaria prevention in Ethiopia: study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial. Malaria Journal 2014, 13:P25.

Poster presentation

Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) are the two main malaria prevention strategies in Ethiopia. Although both interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing malaria transmission when applied independently, there is conflicting evidence that the two in combination is better than either one alone. The main objectives of this trial are to determine the added protection value against malaria and to evaluate the cost-effectiveness when applying IRS and LLINs together, or LLINs or IRS independently.

This trial will be conducted in Adami Tullu district of Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia from 2014 to 2016. The project will use a cluster randomized controlled trial, with four “arms”: IRS+LLINs, LLINs alone, IRS alone and control (routine practice). The sample size includes 40 clusters in each arm, each cluster with 35-45 households. Each household and each inhabitant in the household will be given a unique identification number. Households will be mapped using global positioning system. At the start of the trial, all households in the IRS+LLINs and LLINs alone “arms” of the study will be provided new LLINs free of charge. IRS with an insecticide (propoxur) will be applied in IRS+LLINs and IRS alone arms twice a year throughout the study.

Each household will be visited weekly, and blood samples will be collected from each household member with fever or history of fever. Thick and thin blood smears will be taken by finger prick and rapid diagnostic tests will be used to detect malaria at field level. Data on all self-reporting malaria patients attending health posts will be collected. The cost-effectiveness and entomological studies will be simultaneously conducted. Analysis will be based on intention to treat principle. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Ethiopia and the University of Bergen.

This trial aims to provide evidence on the combined use of IRS and LLINs for malaria prevention. We aim to answer the following research questions: Can the combined use of LLINs and IRS significantly reduce malaria incidence compared with the use of LLIN or IRS alone? And is the reduced incidence justifiably compared to the added costs? Will the combined use of LLINs and IRS reduce vector density, infection, longevity and the entomological inoculation rate? Such data is crucial in order to maximize the impact of the intervention on malaria morbidity and mortality.

MalTrials-poster-Challenges in Malaria Research


Ownership and use of long-lasting insecticidal nets for malaria prevention in Ethiopia

Woyessa A, Deressa W, Ali A, Lindtjorn B. Ownership and use of long-lasting insecticidal nets for malaria prevention in Butajira area, south-central Ethiopia: complex samples data analysis. BMC public health 2014; 14: 99.

BACKGROUND: Despite the encroaching of endemic malaria to highland-fringe areas above 2000 meters above sea level in Ethiopia, there is limited information on ownership and use of mosquito nets for malaria prevention. Thus, this study was designed to assess long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN) possession and use for malaria prevention in highland-fringe of south-central Ethiopia.

METHODS: A multi-stage sampling technique was employed to obtain household data from randomly selected households using household head interview in October and November 2008. Household LLIN possession and use was assessed using adjusted Odds Ratio obtained from complex samples logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: Only less than a quarter (23.1%) of 739 households interviewed owned LLINs with more differences between low (54.2%) high (3.5%) altitudes (Χ2 =253, P < 0.001). Higher LLIN ownership was observed in illiterate (adj.OR 35.1 [10.6-116.2]), male-headed (adj.OR 1.7 [1.051-2.89]), owning two or more beds (adj.OR 2.7 [1.6-4.6]), not doing draining/refilling of mosquito breeding sites (adj.OR 3.4 [2.1-5.5]) and absence of rivers or streams (adj.OR 6.4 [3.5-11.8]) of household variables. The presence of ≥2 LLINs hanging (adj.OR 21.0 [5.2-85.1]), owning two or more LLINs (adj.OR 4.8 [1.3-17.5]), not doing draining/refilling of mosquito breeding sites (adj.OR 4.2 [1.3-13.6]), low wealth status (adj.OR 3.55 [1.04-12.14]), and < 1 km distance from absence of rivers or streams (adj.OR 3.9 [1.2-12.1]) of households was associated with more likely use of LLIN. The LLIN ownership was low in the highlands, and most of the highland users bought the bed nets themselves.

CONCLUSIONS: This study found a low household LLIN ownership and use in the highland-fringe rural area. Therefore, improving the availability and teaching effective use of LLIN combined with removal of temporary mosquito breeding places should be prioritized in highland-fringe areas.

Diriba Korecha Dadi’s PhD on Predicting Seasonal Climate in Ethiopia

On April 25, 2014 Diriba Korecha Dadi defended his PhD at the University of Bergen. Diriba was a part of the research programme “Ethiopian Malaria Prediction System”.

The Abstract of the thesis is found at:

His thesis, Characterizing the Predictability of Seasonal Climate in Ethiopia, can be downloaded

Validation of seasonal rainfall forecast in Ethiopia

Korecha, D., and A. Sorteberg (2013), Validation of operational seasonal rainfall forecast in Ethiopia, Water Resour. Res., 49, doi:10.1002/2013WR013760.

Operational rainfall forecasts using the analog method have been issued in Ethiopia since 1987. We evaluate the performance of the forecast system for February–May and June–September rainy seasons over the period 1999–2011. Verification is performed using rainfall data obtained from Ethiopian meteorological stations covering eight homogeneous rainfall regions used in the forecasts. The results reveal that forecasts issued by the National Meteorological Agency (NMA) of Ethiopia, for the past 12 years have a weak positive skill for all eight regions compared with climatology. In terms of ranked probability skill scores, the values are all lower than 10% indicating that the forecast skill is modest. The results further suggest that the forecasting system has bias toward forecasting near-normal conditions and has problems in capturing below average events. In contrast, the forecast has some positive skills in ranking the wet years of February–May season, particularly over the regions where there is high seasonal rainfall variability with significantly positive rank correlations for the above average years. For the main season, however, the forecast is not able to rank wet years or dry years. The extreme low and high rainfall events are mostly missed by the forecast scheme. The results indicate rather low forecast skill for extreme rainfall events in both seasons. Generally, the results indicate that NMA’s forecasts have low but positive skill as it is common with results from other forecasting systems for the Greater Horn of Africa region. The underforecasting of dry events is the most serious shortcoming of the system.

Housing and Anopheles arabiensis density in Ethiopia

Animut A, Balkew M, Lindtjorn B. Impact of housing condition on indoor-biting and indoor-resting Anopheles arabiensis density in a highland area, central Ethiopia. Malaria journal 2013;12(1):393.

Exposure of individuals to malaria infection may depend on their housing conditions as houses serve as biting and resting places of vectors. This study describes the association of housing conditions with densities of indoor-biting and indoor-resting Anopheles arabiensis in Hobe, Dirama and Wurib villages of a highland area in central Ethiopia.

Data on housing conditions, including presence of house apertures, number of occupants and number and the type of domestic animal tethered inside, were collected. Indoor-biting mosquitoes were sampled using Centers for Disease Control (CDC) light traps and indoor-resting mosquitoes sampled with pyrethrum spray catches (PSCs) monthly for two years (July 2008 to June 2010). Female anophelines were identified to species and processed. Univariate and general linear estimating equation allowing for repeated measures were used to assess the contribution of housing conditions for indoor-biting and indoor-resting An. arabiensis.

About 96% (4,597/4,788) of anophelines were caught inside residential houses. Nine anopheline species were identified, among which An. arabiensis was most prevalent (2,489; 52%). Vectors entering houses were higher in those situated at low (β = 4.475; 95% CI = 3.475-5.476; p <0.001; β = strength of the association) and medium (β = 2.850; 95% CI = 1.975-3.724; p <0.001) altitudes compared to high altitude, and where houses have no windows (β = -0.570; 95% CI = -1.047-0.094; p = 0.019) compared with those that have. Numbers of indoor-resting vectors were higher in those situated at low (β = 6.100; 95% CI = 4.571-7.629; p <0.001) and medium (β = 4.411; 95% CI = 2.284-6.537; p <0.001) altitudes compared to high altitudes, and where houses had open eaves (β =1.201; 95% CI = 0.704-1.698; p <0.001) compared with those that had closed eaves.

Housing conditions such as presence of open eaves, absence of window, location at low and mid altitudes, were strong predictors of indoor exposure to An. arabiensis bite in a highland area of south-central Ethiopia.

Screening houses prevents malaria

The results of this randomized trial show that screening doors and windows, and closing openings on walls and eves by mud reduced the overall indoor densities of An. arabiensis by 40%. Although screening intervention reduced indoor density of An. arabiensis at all abdominal stages, the reduction was substantially higher against unfed An. arabiensis. The intervention was based on locally bought materials, and was affordable.

Massebo F, Lindtjorn B. The effect of screening doors and windows on indoor density of Anopheles arabiensis in south-west Ethiopia: a randomized trial. Malar J 2013; 12(1): 319.