Insecticide control of vector-borne diseases: When is insecticide resistance a problem?

Ana Rivero, Julien Vézilier, Mylene Weill, Andrew F. Read, Sylvain Gandon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

264 Scopus citations


Many of the most dangerous human diseases are transmitted by insect vectors. After decades of repeated insecticide use, all of these vector species have demonstrated the capacity to evolve resistance to insecticides. Insecticide resistance is generally considered to undermine control of vector-transmitted diseases because it increases the number of vectors that survive the insecticide treatment. Disease control failure, however, need not follow from vector control failure. Here, we review evidence that insecticide resistance may have an impact on the quality of vectors and, specifically, on three key determinants of parasite transmission: vector longevity, competence, and behaviour. We argue that, in some instances, insecticide resistance is likely to result in a decrease in vector longevity, a decrease in infectiousness, or in a change in behaviour, all of which will reduce the vectorial capacity of the insect. If this effect is sufficiently large, the impact of insecticide resistance on disease management may not be as detrimental as previously thought. In other instances, however, insecticide resistance may have the opposite effect, increasing the insect's vectorial capacity, which may lead to a dramatic increase in the transmission of the disease and even to a higher prevalence than in the absence of insecticides. Either way-and there may be no simple generality-the consequence of the evolution of insecticide resistance for disease ecology deserves additional attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001000
Pages (from-to)5-6
Number of pages2
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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