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Review 2: "Dramatic Resurgence of Malaria after 7 Years of Intensive Vector Control Interventions in Eastern Uganda"

The study was highly rated for demonstrating that changes in the insecticides used in indoor residual spraying are linked to a resurgence of malaria in Eastern Uganda.

Published onApr 24, 2024
Review 2: "Dramatic Resurgence of Malaria after 7 Years of Intensive Vector Control Interventions in Eastern Uganda"
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key-enterThis Pub is a Review of
Dramatic resurgence of malaria after 7 years of intensive vector control interventions in Eastern Uganda
Dramatic resurgence of malaria after 7 years of intensive vector control interventions in Eastern Uganda

Abstract Background Tororo District, Uganda experienced a dramatic decrease in malaria burden from 2015-19 following 5 years of indoor residual spraying (IRS) with carbamate (Bendiocarb) and then organophosphate (Actellic) insecticides. However, a marked resurgence occurred in 2020, which coincided with a change to a clothianidin-based IRS formulations (Fludora Fusion/SumiShield). To quantify the magnitude of the resurgence, investigate causes, and evaluate the impact of a shift back to IRS with Actellic in 2023, we assessed changes in malaria metrics in regions within and near Tororo District.Methods Malaria surveillance data from Nagongera Health Center, Tororo District was included from 2011-2023. In addition, a cohort of 667 residents from 84 houses was followed from August 2020 through September 2023 from an area bordering Tororo and neighboring Busia District, where IRS has never been implemented. Cohort participants underwent passive surveillance for clinical malaria and active surveillance for parasitemia every 28 days. Mosquitoes were collected in cohort households every 2 weeks using CDC light traps. Female Anopheles were speciated and tested for sporozoites and phenotypic insecticide resistance. Temporal comparisons of malaria metrics were stratified by geographic regions.Findings At Nagongera Health Center average monthly malaria cases varied from 419 prior to implementation of IRS; to 56 after 5 years of IRS with Bendiocarb and Actellic; to 1591 after the change in IRS to Fludora Fusion/SumiShield; to 155 after a change back to Actellic. Among cohort participants living away from the border in Tororo, malaria incidence increased over 8-fold (0.36 vs. 2.97 episodes per person year, p<0.0001) and parasite prevalence increased over 4-fold (17% vs. 70%, p<0.0001) from 2021 to 2022 when Fludora Fusion/SumiShield was used. Incidence decreased almost 5-fold (2.97 vs. 0.70, p<0.0001) and prevalence decreased by 39% (70% vs. 43%, p<0.0001) after shifting back to Actellic. There was a similar pattern among those living near the border in Tororo, with increased incidence between 2021 and 2022 (0.93 vs. 2.40, p<0.0001) followed by a decrease after the change to Actellic (2.40 vs. 1.33, p<0.001). Among residents of Busia, malaria incidence did not change significantly over the 3 years of observation. Malaria resurgence in Tororo was temporally correlated with the replacement of An. gambiae s.s. by An. funestus as the primary vector, with a marked decrease in the density of An. funestus following the shift back to IRS with Actellic. In Busia, An. gambiae s.s. remained the primary vector throughout the observation period. Sporozoite rates were approximately 50% higher among An. funestus compared to the other common malaria vectors. Insecticide resistance phenotyping of An. funestus revealed high tolerance to clothianidin, but full susceptibility to Actellic.Conclusions A dramatic resurgence of malaria in Tororo was temporally associated with a change to clothianidin-based IRS formulations and emergence of An. funestus as the predominant vector. Malaria decreased after a shift back to IRS with Actellic. This study highlights the ability of malaria vectors to rapidly circumvent control efforts and the importance of high-quality surveillance systems to assess the impact of malaria control interventions and generate timely, actionable data.

RR:C19 Evidence Scale rating by reviewer:

  • Strong. The main study claims are very well-justified by the data and analytic methods used. There is little room for doubt that the study produced has very similar results and conclusions as compared with the hypothetical ideal study. The study’s main claims should be considered conclusive and actionable without reservation.


Review: The manuscript has one main claim with several evidence supporting it. This claim is that a dramatic resurgence in malaria metrics (incidence, prevalence) and entomological metrics (vector density, species composition) was clearly associated with changes in insecticides from Bendiocarb/Actellic to Fludora Fusion/SumiShield during the indoor residual spray campaign.

The claims made in this paper are very well-supported by the data and methods used. Decision makers, particularly malaria control agencies and officials should consider the claims in this study extremely informative based on the methods and data. I have no hesitation in having this paper published. Since malaria, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa is rebounding despite intense insecticide-based vector interventions, this paper must be published as soon as possible for public health officials and scientists to access.

Malaria and entomological surveillance must be implemented alongside an indoor residual spray program to ensure that failure of an insecticide product to control malaria is detected early and a switch back to more effective product is implemented in a timely manner.

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