Household spraying is a commonly implemented, yet an under-researched, cholera response intervention where a response team sprays surfaces in cholera patients’ houses with chlorine. We conducted mixed-methods evaluations of three household spraying programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti, including 18 key informant interviews, 14 household surveys and observations, and 418 surface samples collected before spraying, 30 minutes and 24 hours after spraying. The surfaces consistently most contaminated with Vibrio cholerae were food preparation areas, near the patient’s bed and the latrine. Effectiveness varied between programs, with statistically significant reductions in V. cholerae concentrations 30 minutes after spraying in two programs. Surface contamination after 24 hours was variable between households and programs. Program challenges included difficulty locating households, transportation and funding limitations, and reaching households quickly after case presentation (disinfection occurred 2–6 days after reported cholera onset). Program advantages included the concurrent deployment of hygiene promotion activities. Further research is indicated on perception, recontamination, cost-effectiveness, viable but nonculturable V. cholerae, and epidemiological coverage. We recommend that, if spraying is implemented, spraying agents should: disinfect surfaces systematically until wet using 0.2/2.0% chlorine solution, including kitchen spaces, patients’ beds, and latrines; arrive at households quickly; and, concurrently deploy hygiene promotion activities.
Cholera remains a global health concern, with an estimated 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths per year. Household spraying is an outbreak response activity where the houses of cholera patients are disinfected by spraying chlorine to interrupt cholera transmission within households. The effectiveness and appropriateness of this intervention have been questioned but it remains widely implemented. We conducted three mixed-methods evaluations of household spraying programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Haiti. By sampling surfaces before, 30 minutes and 24 hours after spraying, we were able to identify household surfaces that were consistently the most contaminated at baseline (namely food preparation areas, patients’ beds, and latrines). We also found that spraying chlorine could inactivate bacteria on household surfaces but that effectiveness was inconsistent, likely due to differences in spraying protocols between programs such as the amount of chlorine applied onto surfaces. Through key informant interviews, structured observations and household surveys, we also gained insights into the advantages and challenges of each program. This work contributes to the scientific evidence base necessary to optimize cholera response strategies; the combination of microbiological and qualitative information allowed us to formulate concrete recommendations for outbreak response programs.