Tinytags monitor environmental conditions at the medical research facility during evaluation of insecticides and vector control tools.
loggers are used by Dr Matt Kirby and
the team at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University
College (KCMUCo) in Moshi, Tanzania. Dr Kirby is a
Lecturer in Medical Entomology at London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine, and Study Director for PAMVERC (Pan African
Malaria Vector Research Consortium) at the KCMUCo.
PAMVERC is an alliance of African research
institutes and trial sites for evaluation of insecticides and
vector control tools. (Vector control is the method to limit or
eradicate the organisms - vectors - which transmit disease
pathogens, frequently mosquitos.) The individual trial sites have
unique expertise in vector control product evaluation and have
historical collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and
KCMUCo is situated in the shadow of Mount
Kilimanjaro and shares the site with a regional hospital,
a school of pharmacy and a biotechnology laboratory. There are
currently 72 ongoing projects in malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB,
non-communicable diseases, reproductive health, dermatology and
disabilities. The PAMVERC facilities specifically comprise
an Insecticide Testing Facility, an insectary, an
animal house, a molecular laboratory and three field stations where
insecticide-treated products are tested in a community setting.
Environmental conditions, including water temperatures,
air temperatures and humidity are being monitored in
several locations with a variety of Tinytag data loggers.
Aquatic 2 data loggers monitor the range of
water temperatures experienced by mosquito larvae
in the insectary in larval breeding bowls. It is important to
optimise the conditions the larvae experience in order to maximise
productivity of adults, for testing against insecticides. Larval
development is strongly influenced by temperature - at low
temperatures they develop very slowly and at very high temperatures
they either die or do not accumulate enough energy reserve so the
adults that emerge are not suitable for testing.
When conducting assays of insecticide-treated bed nets and other
insecticide-treated surfaces, this must also be done under
carefully controlled conditions in the laboratory.
For this, 12 Tinytag View 2 temp/RH data
loggers are used to check conditions on benchtops, in
fridges, in chemical storerooms, and in incubators. The aim is to
demonstrate how quickly and effectively insecticides can
kill mosquitoes, and a control group which is not exposed
to the insecticides is required as a reference. It is important
that the assays are run under conditions that are suitable for the
control group i.e. that none or very few of them die. Mosquitoes
are naturally quite sensitive to low humidity as they do not have
much water reserve and desiccate quickly. So assays are run
typically at a narrow range: 27°C ±2 and 75%RH±10.
In addition, the efficacy of some insecticides that impact on
respiratory pathways is influenced by temperature.
Trials of vector control tools (bed nets,
insecticide sprayed on walls) are run in the local community, and
temperature is recorded using four Tinytag Plus 2 temp/RH data
loggers located inside and outside houses. Mosquito
nightly activity and behaviour is strongly influenced by
environmental conditions, and it is important to analyse the data
and make allowances/adjustments for changes in the environment from
week to week.
thermohygrometers are used in the field insectaries.
Hand held units are needed as there are no computers in these
locations (no reliable electricity) to which the data could be
uploaded from alternative types of logger. The handheld units have
proved useful as they give rapid readings and
adjust quickly to being moved around. Readings are taken from the
screen and recorded on paper record sheets.
In addition to the stand-alone units, 12 Tinytag Ultra Radio
temp/RH data loggers are mounted on the wall in each
room in the laboratory, in the insectary, the animal house and the
store of insecticide-treated bed nets. PAMVERC at KCMUCo is
undergoing an internationally-recognised audit of Good
Laboratory Practice. Under this scheme they are required
to conduct experiments under carefully controlled,
pre-defined, repeatable and reliable conditions.
Monitoring environmental conditions is a critical component of
The Ultra Radio loggers have proved particularly useful in this
respect as they have been set up in these various locations,
communicating back to a centrally located receiver linked to a
laptop dedicated to running the Tinytag Explorer
software. This laptop is accessible (it is hosted on a
server with a global IP) to office desktops, so all the senior
management can check the data from the Ultra Radio loggers
in real-time and take corrective action
immediately if any reading is out of range. All the
facilities are equipped with thermostatically-controlled heater
units, hygrostatically-controlled humidifiers and A/C units and
these can be moved or adjusted as necessary to quickly return the
environment to within the acceptable range.
Temperature sensitive chemicals and other test
items in fridges and freezers are also monitored.
If there is a power cut and the fridges go out of acceptable range,
this must be reported to the trial sponsor and a decision made as
to whether this has had a negative impact on the trial i.e. should
the results from those test items be discarded, the test repeated,
or the entire protocol restarted.
Dr Kirby chose Tinytags because of their good reputation.
Various loggers had been used previously by several of the team's
project managers and by Dr Kirby himself in other trial sites in
Africa. The Radio
System is a personal favourite not only because of the
instant access to data, but also the ability to
group the units in the output display (there are separate
facilities each with several units), to bring up and project graphs
of the data easily, and most importantly, to set the alarm
ranges for each unit independently and to have those flash
on laptop screens. This allows problems to be seen easily and
corrective action to be taken immediately. This
potentially saves repeating dozens of experiments each month that
would otherwise have been conducted under sub-optimal environmental
Dr Kirby concludes, "The various Tinytag loggers
used by PAMVERC have been easy to install and operate, and are
suited to a wide range of situations. They are appropriate for
laboratories requiring calibrated, accurate and reliable
environmental monitoring. We are highly satisfied with them and
will continue to purchase more units as our facility
Top: Tinytag Aquatic 2 data logger in larval bowl.
Right: Insectary Facility Supervisor using Tinytag Hand-held
thermohygrometer in adult mosquito room.
Listing image: Tinytag View 2 data logger in the chemical