Human Health

Vector-borne diseases represent a significant portion of the disease burden in sub Saharan Africa, with those transmitted by parasites such as malaria, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomosis, onchocerciasis and schistosomiasis, being the most prevalent.

In addition, some arboviral diseases (such as dengue/dengue haemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, chikungunya and Rift Valley fever), and bacterial diseases (such as plague and typhus), are re-emerging, posing great threats across the continent, and indeed the globe.

Effective prevention strategies for vector-borne diseases have remained elusive, complicated by a variety of factors such as the resistance of insects against insecticides, and the ability of pathogens to become resistant to drugs. As a result, there is great need to develop new strategies for the sustainable control of vector-borne diseases.

icipe’s human health theme aims to contribute towards the reduction, elimination and eradication of vector-borne diseases. The Centre aims to achieve this goal by generating knowledge and developing sustainable tools and strategies that control vectors, break the cycle of transmission, and which can be integrated into other disease management efforts. 

The broad objectives are to:

  • Contribute to the national disease control programmes by focusing on the ecology and behaviour of arthropod vectors;
  • Strengthen linkages and networks with national research and teaching institutions in Africa; 
  • Develop integrated vector management (IVM) strategies for use in different ecological settings; and
  • Contribute to the WHO/AFRO initiative of strengthening vector control capability for the national disease control programmes in Africa.

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Experimental Facilities

Human Health Facilities in icipe Thomas Odhiambo Campus:

Arthropod Containment Level 2 (ACL-2) Facility

The Arthropod Containment Level 2 (ACL-2) is intended for rearing of, maintenance and experimentation on genetically modified arthropods. The arthropods should pose minimal or no potential hazards to health of human, animal and environment in their contained state. The containment minimizes the possibility of an unanticipated deleterious effect on the ecosystems outside the experimental facility. All experiments conducted under this facility adhere to biosafety guidelines for working with genetically modified arthropods.

ACL-1 Facility: Mosquito rearing Unit

This is the central mosquito rearing unit at the icipe, Thomas Odhiambo Campus, Mbita (iTOC, Mbita) for all malaria projects. Mosquitoes reared here are mainly Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto and Anopheles arabiensis, the major malaria vectors in the region. The unit is maintained under ambient climatic conditions and provides mosquitoes at all life stages for laboratory and semi-field studies. The mosquitoes are used in a variety of ways, including understanding how and when they reproduce, mate, find their human hosts for blood, and carry malaria parasites to testing their susceptibility to insecticides.

Screen houses

The center is a host to large semi-field systems (SSF) used for conducting high throughput assays of control tools and ecological phenomena without risk of exposure to mosquito bites. The SSF allow experiments to provide valuable insight into mosquito basic biology and ecology, including host-seeking, oviposition and mating behavior, vector-parasite interactions and insecticide susceptibility. The semi-field systems are enclosed large outdoor cages in which movement of the mosquitoes in and out of the unit is restricted by netting material. The semi-field systems are of three different sizes: Large SSF: 27m long x 11.5m wide x 5m high; medium SSF: 11.4m long x7.1m wide x4m high, small SSF: 10.8m long x 6.8m wide.