A trial of bed nets (mosquito nets) as a malaria control strategy in a rural area of The Gambia, West Africa.
Snow RW., Rowan KM., Lindsay SW., Greenwood BM.
An intervention trial was undertaken in a rural area of The Gambia to assess the impact on malaria morbidity of the use of bed nets. Bed nets were allocated at random among a group of 16 Fula hamlets, where they were previously rarely used. The incidence of febrile episodes with associated malaria parasitaemias throughout the rainy season and the prevalence of splenomegaly and parasitaemia at the end of the rainy season were determined in 233 children aged 1-9 years who slept under bed nets and in 163 children who did not. Bed nets were used correctly by the children in the study cohort, but direct observations showed that a significant number of children left their nets for a period during the night. There was no significant difference in the incidence of clinical attacks of malaria or in any other malariometric measurement between the 2 groups. Thus, bed nets were not effective in reducing malaria morbidity in this group of children. The apparent protection from bed nets demonstrated in previous retrospective surveys may have been due to an increased number of infective bites being received by exposed individuals sleeping close to users of bed nets.