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Household spraying in cholera outbreaks: Insights from three exploratory, mixed-methods field effectiveness evaluations

Household spraying is a commonly implemented, yet an under-researched, cholera response intervention where a response team sprays surfaces in cholera patients’ houses with chlorine. We conducted mixed-methods evaluations of three household spraying pro- grams in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti, including 18 key informant interviews, 14 household surveys and observations, and 418 surface samples collected before spray- ing, 30 minutes and 24 hours after spraying. The surfaces consistently most contaminated with Vibrio cholerae were food preparation areas, near the patient’s bed and the latrine. Effectiveness varied between programs, with statistically significant reductions in V. cholerae concentrations 30 minutes after spraying in two programs. Surface contamination after 24 hours was variable between households and programs. Program challenges included difficulty locating households, transportation and funding limitations, and reaching households quickly after case presentation (disinfection occurred 2–6 days after reported cholera onset). Program advantages included the concurrent deployment of hygiene promo- tion activities. Further research is indicated on perception, recontamination, cost-effective- ness, viable but nonculturable V. cholerae, and epidemiological coverage. We recommend that, if spraying is implemented, spraying agents should: disinfect surfaces systematically until wet using 0.2/2.0% chlorine solution, including kitchen spaces, patients’ beds, and latrines; arrive at households quickly; and, concurrently deploy hygiene promotion activities.

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