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Mosquito aquatic habitat modification and manipulation interventions to control malaria

Martello, Elisa; Yogeswaran, Gowsika; Reithinger, Richard; Leonardi-Bee, Jo


Elisa Martello

Gowsika Yogeswaran

Richard Reithinger

Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology


Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group


Background: Larval source management (LSM) may help reduce Plasmodium parasite transmission in malaria-endemic areas. LSM approaches include habitat modification (permanently or temporarily reducing mosquito breeding aquatic habitats); habitat manipulation (temporary or recurrent change to environment); or use of chemical (e.g. larviciding) or biological agents (e.g. natural predators) to breeding sites. We examined the effectiveness of habitat modification or manipulation (or both), with and without larviciding. This is an update of a review published in 2013. Objectives: 1. To describe and summarize the interventions on mosquito aquatic habitat modification or mosquito aquatic habitat manipulation, or both, on malaria control. 2. To evaluate the beneficial and harmful effects of mosquito aquatic habitat modification or mosquito aquatic habitat manipulation, or both, on malaria control. Search methods: We used standard, extensive Cochrane search methods. The latest search was from January 2012 to 30 November 2021. Selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials (RCT) and non-randomized intervention studies comparing mosquito aquatic habitat modification or manipulation (or both) to no treatment or another active intervention. We also included uncontrolled before-after (BA) studies, but only described and summarized the interventions from studies with these designs. Primary outcomes were clinical malaria incidence, malaria parasite prevalence, and malaria parasitaemia incidence. Data collection and analysis: We used standard Cochrane methods. We assessed risk of bias using the Cochrane RoB 2 tool for RCTs and the ROBINS-I tool for non-randomized intervention studies. We used a narrative synthesis approach to systematically describe and summarize all the interventions included within the review, categorized by the type of intervention (habitat modification, habitat manipulation, combination of habitat modification and manipulation). Our primary outcomes were 1. clinical malaria incidence; 2. malaria parasite prevalence; and 3. malaria parasitaemia incidence. Our secondary outcomes were 1. incidence of severe malaria; 2. anaemia prevalence; 3. mean haemoglobin levels; 4. mortality rate due to malaria; 5. hospital admissions for malaria; 6. density of immature mosquitoes; 7. density of adult mosquitoes; 8. sporozoite rate; 9. entomological inoculation rate; and 10. harms. We used the GRADE approach to assess the certainty of the evidence for each type of intervention. Main results: Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Six used an RCT design, six used a controlled before-after (CBA) study design, three used a non-randomized controlled design, and one used an uncontrolled BA study design. Eleven studies were conducted in Africa and five in Asia. Five studies reported epidemiological outcomes and 15 studies reported entomological outcomes. None of the included studies reported on the environmental impacts associated with the intervention. For risk of bias, all trials had some concerns and other designs ranging from moderate to critical. Ten studies assessed habitat manipulation (temporary change to the environment). This included water management (spillways across streams; floodgates; intermittent flooding; different drawdown rates of water; different flooding and draining regimens), shading management (shading of drainage channels with different plants), other/combined management approaches (minimal tillage; disturbance of aquatic habitats with grass clearing and water replenishment), which showed mixed results for entomological outcomes. Spillways across streams, faster drawdown rates of water, shading drainage canals with Napier grass, and using minimal tillage may reduce the density of immature mosquitoes (range of effects from 95% reduction to 1.7 times increase; low-certainty evidence), and spillways across streams may reduce densities of adult mosquitoes compared to no intervention (low-certainty evidence). However, the effect of habitat manipulation on malaria parasite prevalence and clinical malaria incidence is uncertain (very low-certainty evidence). Two studies assessed habitat manipulation with larviciding. This included reducing or removal of habitat sites; and drain cleaning, grass cutting, and minor repairs. It is uncertain whether drain cleaning, grass cutting, and minor repairs reduces malaria parasite prevalence compared to no intervention (odds ratio 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42 to 0.83; very low-certainty evidence). Two studies assessed combination of habitat manipulation and permanent change (habitat modification). This included drainage canals, filling, and planting of papyrus and other reeds for shading near dams; and drainage of canals, removal of debris, land levelling, and filling ditches. Studies did not report on epidemiological outcomes, but entomological outcomes suggest that such activities may reduce the density of adult mosquitoes compared to no intervention (relative risk reduction 0.49, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.50; low-certainty evidence), and preventing water stagnating using drainage of canals, removal of debris, land levelling, and filling ditches may reduce the density of immature mosquitoes compared to no intervention (ranged from 10% to 55% reductions; low-certainty evidence). Three studies assessed combining manipulation and modification with larviciding. This included filling or drainage of water bodies; filling, draining, or elimination of rain pools and puddles at water supply points and stream bed pools; and shoreline work, improvement and maintenance to drainage, clearing vegetation and undergrowth, and filling pools. There were mixed effect sizes for the reduction of entomological outcomes (moderate-certainty evidence). However, filling or draining water bodies probably makes little or no difference to malaria parasite prevalence, haemoglobin levels, or entomological inoculation rate when delivered with larviciding compared to no intervention (moderate-certainty evidence). Authors' conclusions: Habitat modification and manipulation interventions for preventing malaria has some indication of benefit in both epidemiological and entomological outcomes. While the data are quite mixed and further studies could help improve the knowledge base, these varied approaches may be useful in some circumstances.


Martello, E., Yogeswaran, G., Reithinger, R., & Leonardi-Bee, J. (2022). Mosquito aquatic habitat modification and manipulation interventions to control malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2022(11), Article CD008923.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 11, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 11, 2022
Publication Date Nov 11, 2022
Deposit Date Sep 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 14, 2022
Journal Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Electronic ISSN 1469-493X
Publisher Cochrane Collaboration
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2022
Issue 11
Article Number CD008923
Public URL
Publisher URL


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