August 30, 2013 | The Editors

Malaria control target: mosquito larvae

Here are a few stories in global health this week that we found interesting.

Woman and child sit on a bed shrouded on three sides  by a white net.
A woman and child sit under a bednet meant to help control malaria transmitted by mosquitoes. Photo: PATH/David Jacobs.

Cochrane review finds larvae control cuts malaria cases

SciDev Net, August 28, 2013

Targeting mosquito larvae could cut malaria cases by up to 75 per cent in some sites, a review published today has found. The Cochrane review reports that a set of control methods, known collectively as larval source management, which kill mosquito larvae before they become malaria-carrying adults, could dramatically cut the disease’s spread. In some places, where the environmental conditions are right, this control method could reduce the number of people infected with the parasite by as much as 90 percent, according to the review.

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After missteps in HIV care, South Africa finds its way

NPR, August 27, 2013

The South African government is simplifying AIDS care, cutting treatment costs, and providing antiviral drugs to almost 2 million people every day. . . .
The delivery of antiviral drugs through the public health care system has been so successful and saved so many lives that the overall life expectancy in the country has increased by eight years since the crest of South Africa’s AIDS crisis in the mid-2000s. Nearly 350,000 South Africans died of AIDS in 2005. But in 2012, that number dropped by nearly half to about 190,000 deaths, the government reports.

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Rotavirus rates drop in adults, too, after vaccine

Reuters, August 26, 2013

Fewer older children and adults were hospitalized for severe diarrhea once the US started vaccinating babies against rotavirus in 2006, according to a new study. Rotavirus is one cause of the “stomach flu,” or gastroenteritis, and introduction of the rotavirus vaccine has already been tied to a drop in related hospitalizations among preschoolers. But whether vaccinating babies would also confer protection for older people was unclear, researchers said.

“This study confirms the benefits of the rotavirus vaccine program, but it also shows there’s an unexpected benefit to the population at large,” Ben Lopman, who worked on the study at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said. “This is one example of what we call herd immunity,” he told Reuters Health. “By vaccinating young children you prevent them from getting sick, but you also prevent them from transmitting [rotavirus] to their siblings and their parents.”

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