A campaign to stop the sale of electronic mosquito repellents by major airlines is beginning to bear fruit with the immediate withdrawal of the products from KLM flights. The issue, say experts, is that these electronic repellents, sold to airline passengers, many on their way to malaria endemic countries, just don't work.
Dr. Bart Knols, editor of the advocacy website MalariaWorld, discovered that electronic repellents were being sold by KLM on a recent flight he made. The publicity claimed that the 'device emits a low frequency sound that is unbearable to mosquitoes' and Knols, knowing that there is evidence that these sound emitting devices don't work and could give travellers the false impression that they were protected against mosquitoes and in turn malaria, took action.
Armed with the Cochrane Systematic Review, produced by the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group and first published in 2007, which clearly demonstrates that electronic repellents do not work, Knols approached KLM with the subsequent positive result that the airline will withdraw these electronic repellents from sale from March 2010 onwards. Knols has since approached British Airways and Singapore Airlines who also sell the electronic repellents and is waiting for a response.
The Cochrane review rigorously examines all relevant, reliable research, and these reviews are recognised as being authoritative, state-of-the-art summaries.
"These electronic repellents should not be manufactured, advertised or used to prevent mosquito bites and malaria," said co-author of the review Professor Paul Garner. Along with Dr. Ali Enayati from the Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences and Professor Hemingway Director of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, they carefully analysed 10 studies and found there was absolutely no data to support their use. Professor Garner went on to say "These devices appeal to customers but they simply don't work. They don't repel mosquitoes and they don't prevent people getting bitten."
To read Bart Knols' blog on MalariaWorld and follow this story, see: http://www.malariaworld.org/blog/klm-airline-acts-responsibly
- Enayati A, Hemingway J, Garner P. Electronic mosquito repellents for preventing mosquito bites and malaria infection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2007, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005434 DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005434.pub2
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