Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a deadly vector-borne disease. Approximately 90% of Indian VL cases occur in Bihar, where the sand fly, Phlebotomus argentipes, is the principal vector. Sand fly control in Bihar consists of indoor residual spraying (IRS), the practice of spraying the inner walls of village dwellings with insecticides. Prior researchers have evaluated success of IRS-control by estimating vector abundance in village houses, but the number of sampling periods (n = 2-3) were minimal, and outdoor-resting P. argentipes were neglected. We describe a large-scale field study, performed in 24 villages within two Bihari districts, during which P. argentipes were collected biweekly over 47-weeks, in cattle enclosures, houses, and outdoors in peri-domestic vegetation. The objectives of this study were to provide updated P. argentipes ecological field data, and determine if program-initiated IRS-treatment had led to noticeable differences in vector abundance.
P. argentipes (n = 126,901) relative abundance was greatest during the summer months (June-August) when minimum temperatures were highest. P. argentipes were most frequently collected from cattle enclosures (similar to 46% total; similar to 56% blood fed). Many sand flies were found to have taken blood from multiple sources, with similar to 81% having blood fed on humans and similar to 60% blood feeding on bovines. Nonparametric statistical tests were determined most appropriate for evaluating IRS-treatment. Differences in P. argentipes abundance in houses, cattle enclosures and vegetation were detected between IRS-treated and untreated villages in only similar to 9% of evaluation periods occurring during the peak period of human-vector exposure (June-August) and in similar to 8% of the total observations. No significant differences were detected between the numbers of P. argentipes collected in vegetation close to the experimental villages.
The results of this study provide updated data regarding P. argentipes seasonal abundance, spatial distribution, and host preferances, and suggest vector abundance has not significantly declined in IRS-treated villages. We suggest that IRS be supplemented with vector control strategies targeting exophagic, exophilic P. argentipes, and that disease surveillance be accompanied by rigorous vector population monitoring.
- VISCERAL LEISHMANIASIS
- SAND FLIES