Proof-of-concept study for a long-acting formulation of ivermectin injected in cattle as a complementary malaria vector control tool

February 14, 2023

Background

Domesticated animals play a role in maintaining residual transmission of Plasmodium parasites of humans, by offering alternative blood meal sources for malaria vectors to survive on. However, the blood of animals treated with veterinary formulations of the anti-helminthic drug ivermectin can have an insecticidal effect on adult malaria vector mosquitoes. This study therefore assessed the effects of treating cattle with long-acting injectable formulations of ivermectin on the survival of an important malaria vector species, to determine whether it has potential as a complementary vector control measure.

Methods

Eight head of a local breed of cattle were randomly assigned to either one of two treatment arms (2 × 2 cattle injected with one of two long-acting formulations of ivermectin with the BEPO® technology at the therapeutic dose of 1.2 mg/kg), or one of two control arms (2 × 2 cattle injected with the vehicles of the formulations). The lethality of the formulations was evaluated on 3–5-day-old Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes through direct skin-feeding assays, from 1 to 210 days after treatment. The efficacy of each formulation was evaluated and compared using Cox proportional hazards survival models, Kaplan–Meier survival estimates, and log-logistic regression on cumulative mortality.

Results

Both formulations released mosquitocidal concentrations of ivermectin until 210 days post-treatment (hazard ratio > 1). The treatments significantly reduced mosquito survival, with average median survival time of 4–5 days post-feeding. The lethal concentrations to kill 50% of the Anopheles (LC50) before they became infectious (10 days after an infectious blood meal) were maintained for 210 days post-injection for both formulations.

Conclusions

This long-lasting formulation of ivermectin injected in cattle could complement insecticide-treated nets by suppressing field populations of zoophagic mosquitoes that are responsible, at least in part, for residual malaria transmission. The impact of this approach will of course depend on the field epidemiological context. Complementary studies will be necessary to characterize ivermectin withdrawal times and potential environmental toxicity.

Full article

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