In Rwanda, ‘Human Bait’ Volunteers Help Battle Malaria

Entomological “sentinel sites” are enabling researchers to trap and test malarial mosquitoes in real time.

As the late afternoon sun hovers over the horizon in the Rwandan village of Mareba, about an hour from the capital of Kigali, Innocent Bizimana prepares for the mosquitos to arrive. He settles onto a bench inside his neighbor’s house, spreads a tarp beneath his bare feet, and rolls his pant legs above his knees. He arranges little glass vials, empty and clinking, on the tarp around him, along with tufts of cotton that will serve as stoppers.

And then he waits for darkness.

Bizimana is one of 12 villagers who are paid about $3 a night to serve as bait for mosquitoes, which they trap and transfer to technicians at a nearby entomology lab that serves the whole district of Bugesera, one of the most malaria-prone regions in Rwanda. Many of the mosquitoes carry Plasmodium falciparum, a species of malaria parasite capable of killing within 24 hours of the first sign of symptoms if not treated.

Bugesera’s human bait volunteers are on the front line of malaria research in Rwanda, one of only four high-burden countries — along with India, Ethiopia, and Pakistan — that managed to see a significant decline in malaria in 2017. Read more at Undark.

Categories: Freelance Articles

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