Multiple, high doses of the drug, ivermectin, are well tolerated and able to kill mosquitoes feeding on humans for at least 28 days after treatment…

The randomised trial was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on 27 March 2018. Up to now, the mosquito-killing effects of lower doses of this ‘repurposed’ drug had been short-lived.

Mosquitoes adapt behaviour

In sub-Saharan Africa, the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum kills 430 000 people every year – 80% of deaths are in Africa, mostly in children under the age of five. Resistance to insecticides is rising, and mosquitoes are adapting their behaviour to feeding outdoors to escape the killing effects of insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying.

“This is the first study to show the safety and efficacy of multiple high-doses of ivermectin on mosquito mortality”, says Dr Menno Smit from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK, who led the study.

Further trials needed

“Despite these encouraging findings, further rigorous safety and efficacy trials in younger age groups are needed before high-dose ivermectin can be administered at scale to assess its impact on malaria transmission and human health”, says Dr Smit.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Other vector-borne diseases

“High-dose ivermectin may also have potential applications in other vector-borne diseases transmitted by mosquitoes including Zika virus, dengue, and West Nile fever, as well as insect- and tick-borne disease like sleeping sickness and Lyme disease. Further studies should be done to assess the use of high-dose ivermectin against these insects,” adds Dr Smt.

Research could lead to new drugs with improved characteristics

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Regina Rabinovich from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA says: “Given the high variability of the vector and the parasite, more than one approach will probably be needed to confront this challenge… If ivermectin is effective, new endectocides that could safely provide similar benefits with improved characteristics like longer duration of action, could be developed,” concludes Dr Rabinovich.

For complete article, see: //www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(18)30163-4/fulltext

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.