If you live in the malaria-endemic areas, you will not be new to the story of mosquitoes and the use of the mosquito net. Malaria is one of the childhood killer diseases worldwide but it is particularly of special importance in areas where it still abounds. The Americas have recorded 100% elimination of infected mosquitoes and new cases of malaria reported in America are said to be associated with those who recently moved in from Africa, Asia and other areas where the disease is still endemic.
Buying a mosquito net is one of the cheapest control measures for malaria and the mosquito vectors. And thankfully, different manufacturers have come up with the product different prices and specifications.
Children and pregnant women are at high risk of dying from malaria, and people with blood genotype AS are partially resistant to the malaria infection. This is the reason why genotype AS is especially prevalent in malaria-endemic areas.
Modification of the mosquito nets in terms of size, pore sizes, the concentration of impregnated insecticide, and the type of materials used in making the nets, have been made available. Small sizes are now available for children and babies, small and large bed sizes are also available.
Although the insecticide-treated mosquito nets remain very effective in preventing malaria, they come with some allergic reactions that especially affects the skin and face. This could be a burning or a tingling sensation of the face and skin but it does not cause much harm except the discomfort for a few days.
Insecticide treatment is recommended for synthetic materials like nylon and polyester because the use of cotton is not cost-effective. Mosquito nets that are pre-treated with insecticides are commercially available under different brands, but with the right materials, you can manually treat your net.
This could also be done for mosquito nets that still look physically okay but the insecticide concentration has depleted below effective levels. The net could then be reused by re-treating it with the required insecticide(s). The Long-Lasting Insecticide-treated Nets(LLINs) have the insecticide incorporated in the net fibres such that it is not removed by as many as 20 washes.
This procedure is preferably done on a mass scale, where many mosquito nets are treated together. This ensures cost and time-saving.
Steps Involved In Treating Your Mosquito Net
For ease of understanding, I will group the process into 10 steps as follows:
- Collect the necessary equipment
The required equipment includes the following:
- The mosquito nets(could be used or newly made)
- Bowls or large dishes
- Measuring container/can
- Rubber/latex gloves
Ensure that the net is washed or cleaned before treatment and the procedure is preferably done outside in the shade, therefore a suitable location should be used. If treatment is to be carried out indoors, a room with open windows should be used.
The bowls or basins and gloves used are those that will not be used for any other purpose.
This is protect the skin from some likely reactions to permethrin products.
The amount of water needed depends on the size of the net material. ½ litre of water(500ml) is used for one synthetic net(nylon or polyester) for the standard sizes. More water may be needed if the net is large.
In some cases, the insecticides could come with a measuring container. In this case, use the measuring container to measure proportionate amounts of water. Otherwise, use any measuring container, that is not used for food, drinks, medicines.
The amount of insecticide needed to treat a single net depends on the type of insecticide used. Follow the instructions on the container, sachet, packet.
Generally, 10-15 ml of insecticide is required to treat one net.
The insecticide used in treating mosquito nets are referred to as pyrethroids and they are chemically identified by the BIS Number. The BIS Number for two commonly-used Liquid Synthetic Pyrethroids is as follows:
i. Deltamethrin – IS14411: 1996
ii. Cyfluthrin – IS14156: 1994
As a precaution against ingestion by children, store leftover insecticide in its original container. Keep in a dark room away from children.
The correct amounts of water and insecticides ratio should be used.
Always treat one net at a time. Put the net in the basin containing water and insecticide.
Soak the net long enough to ensure that all parts of the nets are impregnated, say 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then take out the nets and allow excess liquid to drip back.
Do not wring the treated net.
Let the net dry flat in the shade on plastic sheets. Later, the net can be hung up to finish drying in the shade.
Following treatment of all available nets, leftover mixture of water and insecticide, if any, may be used to treat curtains. Otherwise, any remnant of insecticide and water mixture and the containers must be disposed of properly. The liquid could be flushed off in the WC or a ditch that is far away from habitation, animal shelters, drinking water sources, ponds, rivers, streams.
Empty insecticide containers, sachets, packets must be disposed-off or buried in a hole away from habitation, animal shelters, drinking water sources, ponds, rivers, streams.
Wash equipment with lots of water while wearing protective gloves. Wash gloves (if non-disposable gloves were used) with soap and water. Then wash your hands properly with soap and water.
After some uses, as the nets get dirty, wash the net. Washing gradually removes the insecticide from the net. So, wash the nets as seldom as possible and gently with soap and cold water and dry flat on a plastic sheet in shade.
Do not wash/rinse treated net in or near drinking water sources, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams. Dispose of water for washing/rinsing in the WC or in a ditch away from habitation, animal shelters, drinking water sources, ponds, rivers, streams.
Nets must be re-treated again after it has been washed three times or at least once a year even if it is not washed, preferably just before the rainy season. The LLINs have the advantage of being reused after about 20 washes before re-treated. Nets may be treated twice a year in areas that have a lot of mosquitoes all year long.
These steps are as easy as they are represented in the steps above, but the procedure may be difficult at first attempts. As you keep doing it, you get better at it.
The mosquito net insecticides(the synthetic pyrethroids) may not be readily commercially available but already treated mosquito nets are in the market for sale.
These nets are usually Long-lasting Insecticides treated nets and can stay for up to 20 times before they lose their effectiveness.
If the chemical is available and purchased, nets could be washed and retreated as many times as you want. This is cost-saving, especially when mosquito nets are required all year long.
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