Collection of the black fly vectors of onchocerciasis worldwide relies upon human landing collections. Recent studies have suggested that the Esperanza Window Trap baited with a human scent lure and CO 2 had the potential to replace human hosts for the collection of Simulium ochraceum sensu lato in Southern Chiapas focus, Mexico. The feasibility of utilizing these traps in a community-based approach for the collection of S. ochraceum s.l. was evaluated.
Local residents of a formerly endemic extra-sentinel community for onchocerciasis were trained to carry out collections using the traps. The residents operated the traps over a 60-day period and conducted parallel landing collections, resulting in a total of 28,397 vector black flies collected. None of the flies collected were found to contain parasite DNA when tested by a polymerase chain reaction assay targeting a parasite specific sequence, resulting in a point estimate of infection in the vectors of zero, with an upper bound of the 95% confidence interval 0.13 per 2,000. This meets the accepted criterion for demonstrating an interruption of parasite transmission.
These data demonstrate that Esperanza Window Traps may be effectively operated by minimally trained residents of formerly endemic communities, resulting in the collection of sufficient numbers of flies to verify transmission interruption of onchocerciasis. The traps represent a viable alternative to using humans as hosts for the collection of vector flies as part of the verification of onchocerciasis elimination.
Onchocerciasis, or river blindness, is a neglected tropical disease that has been identified by the international community as a candidate for elimination. Both the criteria for verification of elimination and for post-treatment surveillance developed by the international community rely heavily on the use of entomological metrics. Large numbers of vector black flies must be collected to satisfy these metrics. The current standard method for collection of vector black flies for this purpose is human landing collections, is both inefficient and potentially hazardous to the collectors. Here, we report studies evaluating a community-based trial of an inexpensive trap made largely from locally available materials for the replacement of fly collection teams. Traps were provided to residents of a formerly onchocerciasis endemic community in Mexico, and the residents allowed to operate the traps over a 60 day period. The number of flies collected was sufficient to meet the current international criteria necessary to verify that the community was free of O. volvulus transmission. These findings suggest that community based operation of this simple trap might replace human landing collections in the process of verifying the interruption of transmission of onchocerciasis.