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Despite its natural isolation, French Polynesia like other regions of the South Pacific is the stage of an ongoing battle against mosquito-borne diseases such as lymphatic filariasis (LF) and dengue. The presence of highly competent mosquito species (e.g. Ae. polynesiensis and Ae. aegypti) along with favorable tropical conditions, a growing population and an increase in international trade all contribute to the maintenance or re-emergence of these infectious diseases in the region.
Lymphatic filariasis, a painful and disfiguring parasitic disease, is the primary cause of disability in the South Pacific. In an attempt to curb LF, mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns have been recommended and applied repetively in French Polynesia since 1949. These campaigns have resultedin the spectacular reduction in LF prevalence (Esterre et al. 2001; Ichimori, 2001) and the decline of the disease's most severe forms (hydrocoele and elephantiasis).
In 1999, the WHO-led Pacific Elimination of LF (PacELF) programme was launched involving 22 island countries and territories of the South Pacific to eliminate LF by 2010. This programme relies on the annual distribution of a combination of drugs diethylcarbamazine (DEC or Notezine®) and albendazole (ALB or Zentel®) for a period of at least five years.
While the strategy has met with success in certain areas of the Pacific, the goal of filariasis elimination is clearly not attained in French Polynesia after eight years of MDA treatment. Recent epidemiological studies conducted in the region reinforce the idea that MDA alone will not be enough to end the LF transmission cycle (Burkot et al., 2006), at least in some countries.
Supplemental control strategies are thus needed to ensure the success of the global LF elimination campaign. Several feasibility studies for the field assessment of genetic control strategies are under way at Institut Louis Malardé to reach either the elimination or the replacement of naturally isolated populations of Ae. polynesiensis.
The testing of symbiont-based control strategies relies on the sustained release of incompatible males in the field. While the initial release size remains fairly small (30.000 sterilized males/week), the technology will be applied gradually to greater areas and will require the production of a much greater number of incompatible males. Adequate mass-production systems (CRP output 3) will thus be needed to meet this goal.
Here we are reporting on the testing in a tropical setting of a novel, IAEA-designed adult housing device for the mass rearing of Aedes mosquitoes. The prototype evaluation focused on specific, measurable, behavioral and life-table outcomes in addition to ease of operation.