Project Lead(s): Isaac Lyatuu
Almost 40% of the world population is exposed to malaria, with 243 million cases reported annually and the majority occurring in children under age five in Africa.
Despite current advances, interventions are unlikely to halt malaria transmission, due to increased vector and parasite resistance, changing mosquito behaviours and human activities.
New innovations to produce more effective mosquito nets may have a significant role to play in the control of vector-borne diseases.
In Tanzania, chicken feathers are a waste by-product of food production but they have unique properties and could potentially be used to produce recyclable, and potentially more durable, affordable and effective mosquito nets.
The overall goal of this project was to produce a mosquito net prototype using chicken feathers.
First, the ability of chicken feathers to absorb and retain a mosquito repellent solution was tested.
Chicken feathers alone treated with low (0.30%, 0.50% and 1%) concentrations of permethrin were tested, as was a processed, non-woven, fiber mat made out of feathers and treated with 2% and 4% concentrations of permethrin.
An attempt was then made to make mosquito nets from chicken feathers, by producing a non-woven feather fiber mat with different concentrations of feathers and a binder.
The experiments demonstrated the potential for treated pure feathers and processed bonded sample feathers to effectively repel mosquitoes.
While technical limitations defeated efforts to produce a mosquito net using feathers, the initial study findings suggest feathers could be used to produce mosquito traps, pillows or window-shades treated with insecticide, to control disease-transmitting mosquitoes.
Results of this work were presented at the International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria 2016 (Brisbane, Australia) and locally at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) 30th Joint Scientific Conference (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania).
The team will continue their collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam’s Department of Textile Engineering, to determine the possibility of carrying out a research project on processing chicken feathers into different forms of baits (such as incorporating treated, non-woven, feather fabric mats into another project of mosquito-treated wearable sandals).
They would like to explore the possibility of extruding feathers to form long strands of yarn that could be sewn into mosquito netting.