Human landing catches (HLCs) are required to collect blackflies for entomological evaluation to verify onchocerciasis elimination. However, there are ethical concerns regarding exposure of vector collectors to infectious blackflies and safer alternative methods are needed. This study evaluated a modified HLC technique where collectors wore coloured trousers (blue, black or blue-black), protecting them from bites during fly collection, and their performance was compared with the standard.
The study was conducted in Makouopsap, Cameroon, in the Massangam health district for four months. Four collector pairs – one ‘standard’ (bare-legged) and three modified – were placed 50m apart along known breeding sites on the Mbam and Nja Rivers. Collections were performed from 07:00 to 17:00 h, four days/month. Hourly rates of flies caught were analysed using a negative binomial generalised linear model to explore associations between flies caught and collection techniques and seasons.
Overall, 17,246 blackflies were caught. There was no significant statistical difference in the number of blackflies and parous flies caught between black trousers and the standard. Thus there is a strong indication that wearing black trousers is a viable non-inferior alternative to the standard HLC. Further studies are needed to confirm generalisability in different ecozones and transmission environments and among different blackfly species.
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