Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.
As part of a study to investigate drivers of dengue virus (DENV) transmission dynamics, this qualitative study explored whether DENV-infected residents of Iquitos, Peru, considered it acceptable (1) to participate in direct mosquito feeding experiments (lab-reared Aedes aegypti mosquitoes fed directly on human volunteers) and (2) to provide blood meals indirectly (Ae. aegypti fed on blood drawn from participants by venipuncture). Twelve focus group discussions (FGDs; 94 participants: 82 females and 12 males) were conducted in January 2014 to explore six themes: (1) concerns and preferences regarding direct mosquito feeds and blood draws, (2) comprehension of and misconceptions about study procedures, (3) motivating factors for participation, (4) acceptability of children's participation, (5) willingness to provide multiple samples over several days, and (6) preference for direct feedings in homes versus the study laboratory. Results of FGDs, including one with 5 of 53 past direct mosquito feed participants, indicated that mosquito feeding procedures are acceptable to Iquitos residents when they are provided with information and a few key messages are properly reinforced. FGD participants' concerns focused primarily on safety issues rather than discomfort associated with mosquito bites. A video explaining the study dramatically increased comprehension of the study procedures. The majority of participants expressed a preference for mosquito feeding over venipuncture. Adults supported child participation if the children themselves assented. For most participants, home feedings were preferred over those in a laboratory. A major impetus for participation was the idea that results would contribute to an improved understanding of DENV transmission in Iquitos. Findings from our study will support future large-scale studies that employ direct mosquito feeding, a low-risk, non-invasive procedure that is experimentally superior to artificial mosquito feeding methods.
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