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Effective control of dengue vectors with curtains and water container covers treated with insecticide in Mexico and Venezuela: cluster randomised trials

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1247
  1. Axel Kroeger, scientist (kroegera{at},
  2. Audrey Lenhart, research assistant2,
  3. Manuel Ochoa, institutional coordinator3,
  4. Elci Villegas, university professor4,
  5. Michael Levy, research assistant5,
  6. Neal Alexander, senior lecturer in medical statistics and epidemiology6,
  7. P J McCall, senior lecturer in medical entomology2
  1. 1 Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Medicine (TDR/WHO), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool L3 5QA
  3. 3 IMSS-OPORTUNIDADES, Col Juarez CP 06600 Mexico City, Mexico
  4. 4 Universidad de los Andes, Nucleo Rafael Rangel, Centro de Investigaciones Josè Witremundo Torrealba, Trujillo, Venezuela
  5. 5 Program in Population Biology, Evolution and Ecology, Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
  6. 6 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  1. Correspondence to: A Kroeger
  • Accepted 9 March 2006


Objectives To measure the impact on the dengue vector population (Aedes aegypti) and disease transmission of window curtains and water container covers treated with insecticide.

Design Cluster randomised controlled trial based on entomological surveys and, for Trujillo only, serological survey. In addition, each site had a non-randomised external control.

Setting 18 urban sectors in Veracruz (Mexico) and 18 in Trujillo (Venezuela).

Participants 4743 inhabitants (1095 houses) in Veracruz and 5306 inhabitants (1122 houses) in Trujillo.

Intervention Sectors were paired according to entomological indices, and one sector in each pair was randomly allocated to receive treatment. In Veracruz, the intervention comprised curtains treated with lambdacyhalothrin and water treatment with pyriproxyfen chips (an insect growth regulator). In Trujillo, the intervention comprised curtains treated with longlasting deltamethrin (PermaNet) plus water jar covers of the same material. Follow-up surveys were conducted at intervals, with the final survey after 12 months in Veracruz and nine months in Trujillo.

Main outcome measures Reduction in entomological indices, specifically the Breteau and house indices.

Results In both study sites, indices at the end of the trial were significantly lower than those at baseline, though with no significant differences between control and intervention arms. The mean Breteau index dropped from 60% (intervention clusters) and 113% (control) to 7% (intervention) and 12% (control) in Veracruz and from 38% to 11% (intervention) and from 34% to 17% (control) in Trujillo. The pupae per person and container indices showed similar patterns. In contrast, in nearby communities not in the trial the entomological indices followed the rainfall pattern. The intervention reduced mosquito populations in neighbouring control clusters (spill-over effect); and houses closer to treated houses were less likely to have infestations than those further away. This created a community effect whereby mosquito numbers were reduced throughout the study site. The observed effects were probably associated with the use of materials treated with insecticide at both sites because in Veracruz, people did not accept and use the pyriproxyfen chips.

Conclusion Window curtains and domestic water container covers treated with insecticide can reduce densities of dengue vectors to low levels and potentially affect dengue transmission.


  • Funding British Council, Sir Halley Stewart Trust, Simpson Education and Conservation Trust. ML received a Howard Hughes fellowship. PermaNet materials were donated by Vestergaard Frandsen, lambdacyhalothrin by Syngenta, and pyriproxyfen by the Sumitomo Corporation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethical approval Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, local ethical committees at IMSS-OPORTUNIDADES, Mexico, and the Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela.

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