Seasonal Variation in Biting Rates of Simulium damnosum sensu lato, Vector of Onchocerca volvulus, in Two Sudanese FociReport as inadecuate

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The abundance of onchocerciasis vectors affects the epidemiology of disease in Sudan, therefore, studies of vector dynamics are crucial for onchocerciasis control-elimination programs. This study aims to compare the relative abundance, monthly biting-rates MBR and hourly-based distribution of onchocerciasis vectors in Abu-Hamed and Galabat foci. These seasonally-based factors can be used to structure vector control efforts to reduce fly-biting rates as a component of onchocerciasis elimination programs.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in four endemic villages in Abu-Hamed and Galabat foci during two non-consecutive years 2007–2008 and 2009–2010. Both adults and aquatic stages of the potential onchocerciasis vector Simulium damnosum sensu lato were collected following standard procedures during wet and dry seasons. Adult flies were collected using human landing capture for 5 days-month. The data was recorded on handheld data collection sheets to calculate the relative abundance, MBR, and hourly-based distribution associated with climatic factors. The data analysis was carried out using ANOVA and Spearman rank correlation tests.


Data on vector surveillance revealed higher relative abundance of S. damnosum s.l. in Abu- Hamed 39,934 flies than Galabat 8,202 flies. In Abu-Hamed, vector populations increased in January-April then declined in June-July until they disappeared in August-October. Highest black fly density and MBR were found in March 2007 N = 9,444, MBR = 58,552.8 bites-person-month, and March 2010 N = 2,603, MBR = 16,138.6 bites-person-month while none of flies were collected in August-October MBR = 0 bites-person-month. In Galabat, vectors increased in September-December, then decreased in February-June. The highest vector density and MBR were recorded in September 2007 N = 1,138, MBR = 6,828 bites-person-month and September 2010 N = 1,163, MBR = 6,978 bites-person-month, whereas, none appeared in collection from April to June. There was a significant difference in mean monthly density of S. damnosum s.l. across the two foci in 2007–2008 df = 3, F = 3.91, P = 0.011. Minimum temperature showed significant correlation with adult flies counts in four areas sampled; the adult counts were increased in Nady village rs = 0.799 and were decreased in Kalasecal rs = - 0.676, Gumaiza rs = - 0.585, and Hilat Khateir rs = - 0.496. Maximum temperature showed positive correlation with black fly counts only in Galabat focus. Precipitation was significantly correlated with adult flies counts in Nady village, Abu-Hamed, but no significance was found in the rest of the sampled villages in both foci. Hourly-based distribution of black flies showed a unimodal pattern in Abu-Hamed with one peak 10:00–18:00, while a bimodal pattern with two peaks 07:00–10:00 and 14:00–18:00 was exhibited in Galabat.


Transmission of onchocerciasis in both foci showed marked differences in seasonality, which may be attributed to ecology, microclimate and proximity of breeding sites to collection sites. The seasonal shifts between the two foci might be related to variations in climate zones. This information on black fly vector seasonality, ecology, distribution and biting activity has obvious implications in monitoring transmission levels to guide the national and regional onchocerciasis elimination programs in Sudan.

Author: Isam M. A. Zarroug , Kamal Hashim, Arwa H. Elaagip, Abdallah M. Samy, Ehab A. Frah, Wigdan A. ElMubarak, Hanan A. Mohamed, Tong C



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