Background: The Plasmodium falciparum entomological inoculation rate (PfEIR) is a measure of exposure to infectious mosquitoes. It is usually interpreted as the number of P. falciparum infective bites received by an individual during a season or annually (aPfEIR). In an area of perennial transmission, the accuracy, precision and seasonal distribution (i.e., month by month) of aPfEIR were investigated. Data were drawn from three sites in Uganda with differing levels of transmission where falciparum malaria is transmitted mainly by Anopheles gambiae s.l. Estimates of aPfEIR derived from human-landing catches--the classic method for estimating biting rates--were compared with data from CDC light traps, and with catches of knock down and exit traps separately and combined.
Methods: Entomological surveillance was carried out over one year in 2011/12 in three settings: Jinja, a peri-urban area with low transmission; Kanungu, a rural area with moderate transmission; and Nagongera, Tororo District, a rural area with exceptionally high malaria transmission. Three sampling approaches were used from randomly selected houses with collections occurring once a month: human-landing collections (eight houses), CDC light traps (100 houses) and paired knock-down and exit traps each month (ten houses) for each setting. Up to 50 mosquitoes per month from each household were tested for sporozoites with P. falciparum by ELISA. Human biting rate (HBR) data were estimated month by month. P. falciparum Sporozoite rate (PfSR) for yearly and monthly data and confidence intervals were estimated using the binomial exact test. Monthly and yearly estimates of the HBR, the PfSR, and the PfEIR were estimated and compared.
Results: The estimated aPfEIR values using human-landing catch data were 3.8 (95% Confidence Intervals, CI 0-11.4) for Jinja, 26.6 (95% CI 7.6-49.4) for Kanungu, and 125 (95% CI 72.2-183.0) for Tororo. In general, the monthly PfEIR values showed strong seasonal signals with two peaks from May-June and October-December, although the precise timing of the peaks differed between sites. Estimated HBRs using human-landing catches were strongly correlated with those made using CDC light traps (r(2) = 0.67, p < 0.001), and with either knock-down catches (r(2) = 0.56, p < 0.001) and exit traps (r(2) = 0.82, p < 0.001) or the combined catches (r(2) = 0.73, p < 0.001). Using CDC light trap catch data, the PfSR in Tororo was strongly negatively correlated with monthly HBR (r(2) = 0.44, p = 0.01). In other sites, no patterns in the PfSR were discernible because either the number P. falciparum of sporozoite positive mosquitoes or the total number of mosquitoes caught was too low.
Conclusions: In these settings, light traps provide an alternative method for sampling indoor-resting mosquitoes to human-landing catches and have the advantage that they protect individuals from being bitten during collection, are easy to use and are not subject to collector bias. Knock-down catches and exit traps could also be used to replace human-landing catches. Although these are cheaper, they are subject to collector bias.