by Inaki Tirados, Andrew Hope, Richard Selby, Fabrice Mpembele, Erick Mwamba Miaka, Marleen Boelaert, Mike J. Lehane, Steve J. Torr, Michelle C. Stanton
Over the past 20 years there has been a >95% reduction in the number of Gambian Human African trypanosomiasis (g-HAT) cases reported globally, largely as a result of large-scale active screening and treatment programmes. There are however still foci where the disease persists, particularly in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Additional control efforts such as tsetse control using Tiny Targets may therefore be required to achieve g-HAT elimination goals. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of Tiny Targets within DRC. In 2015–2017, pre- and post-intervention tsetse abundance data were collected from 1,234 locations across three neighbouring Health Zones (Yasa Bonga, Mosango, Masi Manimba). Remotely sensed dry season data were combined with pre-intervention tsetse presence/absence data from 332 locations within a species distribution modelling framework to produce a habitat suitability map. The impact of Tiny Targets on the tsetse population was then evaluated by fitting a generalised linear mixed model to the relative fly abundance data collected from 889 post-intervention monitoring sites within Yasa Bonga, with habitat suitability, proximity to the intervention and intervention duration as covariates. Immediately following the introduction of the intervention, we observe a dramatic reduction in fly catches by > 85% (pre-intervention: 0.78 flies/trap/day, 95% CI 0.676–0.900; 3 month post-intervention: 0.11 flies/trap/day, 95% CI 0.070–0.153) which is sustained throughout the study period. Declines in catches were negatively associated with proximity to Tiny Targets, and while habitat suitability is positively associated with abundance its influence is reduced in the presence of the intervention. This study adds to the body of evidence demonstrating the impact of Tiny Targets on tsetse across a range of ecological settings, and further characterises the factors which modify its impact. The habitat suitability maps have the potential to guide the expansion of tsetse control activities in this area.