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House Screens Key in Preventing Malaria Transmission

Malaria-related anemia less common in children living in screened houses

THURSDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Houses with screening have fewer mosquitoes indoors, which may help prevent malaria-related anemia in children, according to a study published online Sept. 3 in The Lancet.

Matthew J. Kirby, Ph.D., of Durham University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a study of 462 houses, of which 188 were fully screened, 178 had screened ceilings and 96 were unscreened controls, in an area of The Gambia where it is not common to use bednets treated with insecticide.

Whereas traps placed in unscreened houses caught a mean 37.5 Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes per night, the researchers found that only 15.2 were trapped in fully screened houses and 19.1 in houses with screened ceilings. Data on 731 of the 755 children covered by the study showed that prevalence of anemia in control houses was 19 percent, compared to 12 percent for both types of screened houses.

"We would encourage the initiation of a larger trial to assess whether this intervention reduces clinical episodes of malaria in diverse settings, including areas where use of insecticide-treated bednets is high," the authors write. "We also hope that the results of our trial will stimulate the development of additional sustainable methods that, in combination with improved health care and access to treatment, can help to strengthen efforts to eliminate malaria."

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