An analysis of ways to control mosquitoes that transmit diseases like Zika virus, yellow fever and dengue concludes existing methods are not ideal and may even be counterproductive.
There is a lack of clear evidence as to what works best, according to the review of studies looking at mosquito control interventions.
In the report published in PLoS Neglected Diseases, author Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia in Britain and colleagues looked at a variety of control strategies that have been used over the years and reviewed their effectiveness.
While some studies showed that chemical spraying was up to 76 percent effective in reducing mosquito populations, others suggested that spraying had little effect.
Biological controls, such as introducing larvae-eating fish to water where mosquitoes are breeding, appeared to be better at reducing their numbers.
Hunter said chemical spraying might create a false sense of security among people in areas infested with disease-carrying mosquitoes, who are then less likely to try to remove areas around their homes where mosquitoes might breed.
The World Health Organization recommends a variety of measures to control mosquito populations, including educating local populations on how to eliminate those breeding sites.
Hunter concurred that community education is key in helping to break the disease transmission cycle, but he called for more attention to be paid to the availability of resources for mosquito elimination strategies. He noted public health funding tends to be lowest in low- and middle-income countries where mosquito-transmitted diseases are endemic.