Acceptability of emergent Aedes aegypti vector control methods in Ponce, Puerto Rico: A qualitative assessment

Pérez-Guerra CL, Rosado-Santiago C, Ramos SA, Marrero-Santos KM, González-Zeno G, Partridge SK, et al.,  PLoS Global Public Health,  2024.

Aedes aegypti control has been fraught with challenges in Puerto Rico. The government has implemented commonly used vector control methods, but arboviral epidemics still occur. It is necessary to explore new Aeaegypti control methods. This study aimed to understand the perceptions of community members in Ponce, Puerto Rico about emergent and traditional Aeaegypti vector control methods and determine their acceptability and support for these methods. We identified the type of information needed to increase support for emergent vector control methods, and the preferred strategies to disseminate this information. Four group discussions were conducted with a total of 32 participants representing eight of the 14 clusters participating in the Communities Organized for the Prevention of Arboviruses (COPA), a project designed to mobilize communities in Ponce, Puerto Rico to prevent diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. Group discussions began with an overview of different methods used for controlling Aeaegypti mosquitoes.

These overviews facilitated participant understanding of the mosquito control methods presented. Use of source reduction, autocidal gravid ovitraps (AGO), and manual application of larvicide for arboviral mosquito control received support from almost all participants. Vector control methods that use more familiar techniques in Puerto Rico such as truck-mounted larvicide spraying (TMLS) and insecticide residual spraying received support from most participants. More than half of participants supported the use of emergent mosquito control methods including Wolbachia suppression, Wolbachia replacement, or genetically modified mosquitoes (GMM). Participants preferred to receive vector control information through house-to-house visits with the distribution of written materials, followed by dissemination of information through traditional (i.e., radio, television) and social media. The detailed information resulting from this study was used to develop messages for a communications campaign to garner future community support. Community acceptance and support are critical for the success of vector control programs using emergent mosquito control methods.

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