Zooprophylaxis as a control strategy for malaria caused by the vector Anopheles arabiensis (Diptera: Culicidae): a systematic review

Infect Dis Poverty. 2017 Oct 25;6(1):160. doi: 10.1186/s40249-017-0366-3.


Background: Zooprophylaxis is the use of wild or domestic animals, which are not the reservoir host of a given disease, to divert the blood-seeking malaria vectors from human hosts. In this paper, we systematically reviewed zooprophylaxis to assess its efficacy as a malaria control strategy and to evaluate the possible methods of its application.

Methods: The electronic databases, PubMed Central®, Web of Science, Science direct, and African Journals Online were searched using the key terms: "zooprophylaxis" or "cattle and malaria", and reports published between January 1995 and March 2016 were considered. Thirty-four reports on zooprophylaxis were retained for the systematic review.

Results: It was determined that Anopheles arabiensis is an opportunistic feeder. It has a strong preference for cattle odour when compared to human odour, but feeds on both hosts. Its feeding behaviour depends on the available hosts, varying from endophilic and endophagic to exophilic and exophagic. There are three essential factors for zooprophylaxis to be effective in practice: a zoophilic and exophilic vector, habitat separation between human and host animal quarters, and augmenting zooprophylaxis with insecticide treatment of animals or co-intervention of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and/or indoor residual spraying. Passive zooprophylaxis can be applied only in malaria vector control if cattle and human dwellings are separated in order to avoid the problem of zoopotentiation.

Conclusions: The outcomes of using zooprophylaxis as a malaria control strategy varied across locations. It is therefore advised to conduct a site-specific evaluation of its effectiveness in vector control before implementing zooprophylaxis as the behaviour of Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes varies across localities and circumstances.

Keywords: Cattle; Ethiopia; Malaria; Mosquito; Vector control.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / physiology*
  • Cattle*
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Malaria / prevention & control*
  • Malaria / transmission
  • Mosquito Vectors / physiology*