Systemic control uses the vertebrate hosts of zoonotic pathogens as “Trojan horses,” killing blood-feeding female vectors and short-circuiting host-to-vector pathogen transmission. Previous studies focused only on the effect of systemic control on vector abundance at small spatial scales. None were conducted at a spatial scale relevant for vector control and none on the effect of systemic control on pathogen transmission rates. We tested the application of systemic control, using Fipronil-impregnated rodent baits, in reducing Leishmania major (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae; Yakimoff & Schokhor, 1914) infection levels within the vector, Phlebotomus papatasi (Diptera: Psychodidae; Scopoli, 1786) population, at the town-scale. We provided Fipronil-impregnated food-baits to all Psammomys obesus (Mammalia:Muridae; Cretzschmar, 1828), the main L. major reservoir, burrows along the southern perimeter of the town of Yeruham, Israel, and compared sand fly abundance and infection levels with a non-treated control area. We found a significant and substantial treatment effect on L. major infection levels in the female sand fly population. Sand fly abundance was not affected. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, the potential of systemic control in reducing pathogen transmission rates at a large, epidemiologically relevant, spatial scale.
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© 2022 The Authors. Medical and Veterinary Entomology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Entomological Society.
- cutaneous leishmaniasis
- feed-through systemic control
- parasite load
- pathogen control