Novel Compounds for Countering Insecticide Resistance and Improving the Control of Plague Flea Vectors

Project Summary

Plague, notifiable arthropod borne disease, spreads very fast in animal and human populations. It is normally associated with devastating health and socio-economic consequences; more so when it is not intervened promptly and timely. In the past, plague was involved in millions of deaths; possibly the highest disease related deaths ever recorded. Notably, it caused 50 million deaths across the medieval Europe. Although, fewer cases are reported currently, plague could cause outbreaks that are as devastating as those of the past, if its control challenges are not addressed. The most powerful control
measure, dusting/spraying with chemicals to kill flea vectors, is increasingly threatened by evolution of resistance. Clearly, complementary tools, particularly those that are less prone to insecticide resistance, are urgently needed. Novel compounds such as entomopathogenic fungi, pyriproxyfen and ivermectin have demonstrated great potential as alternative vectors control tools. We therefore aim to explore lethal and sub-lethal effects of these compounds; and integrate them in a manner that they can improve plague control while limiting evolution of resistance in flea vectors. Subsequent to this project, we will work towards developing low-cost Rodent Contamination Device (RCD) which could be used to auto-disseminate these compounds and/or chemical insecticides using rodents.

These compounds will offer non-chemical means for controlling fleas. When integrated with conventional insecticides, they will likely improve flea control, whilst prolonging and/or restoring effective shelf life of such insecticides. Empirically, studies suggest that integrating entomopathogenic fungi and insecticides can prolong and/or restore their effectiveness. We envision development of low cost rodent contamination device (RCD), where rodents would visit, get contaminated with control agents and feed on bait with ivermectin; and vehicle those agents to microhabitats. As such, we will ensure routine and targeted control, which in turn will circumvent delayed control and high costs. We will aim to develop low-cost RCD which could be used to auto-disseminate novel compounds and or chemical insecticides to rodent microhabitats. This will be achieved in two stages: evaluations under simulated environment; and in the field. We will also assess value of combining these novel compounds with insecticides.

Project Duration

2019 -2021

SUA Pest Management Centre

University of Maryland


Amount: Tsh 67,674,882