THE BED NETS USED in national malaria programs in Africa and South-East Asia may also help to curb the transmission of parasitic worms that can cause lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis, a study says.
The study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last month found that bed nets treated with insecticide have reduced the transmission of lymphatic filariasis in five villages in Papua New Guinea to almost zero levels.
They did so by blocking mosquito access to human blood while the chemical cuts the insect's life span by half, thus preventing the parasite's transmission across populations.
This intervention could form an important part of the global strategy to eliminate the disease, according to James Kazura, professor of international health and medicine at Case Western Reserve University, United States, and lead author of the study.
Lymphatic filariasis is a tropical disease infecting over 120 million people worldwide and threatening 1.4 billion people in 73 countries. One in three victims are disfigured or disabled by the disease, WHO data show.
The bed nets act as a barrier and without access to their blood meals, the mosquitoes are unable to host the parasite until it reaches the infectious stage. It takes about ten days for a filarial parasite to reach this stage.
Moreover, mere contact with the insecticide coating the bed nets actually shortens the mosquito life span.Link to the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine