• Chrysomya albiceps;
  • domestic flies;
  • hygiene;
  • pit latrines;
  • Musca domestica;
  • Musca sorbens;
  • The Gambia;
  • toilet facilities;
  • trachoma


Objectives  To assess whether the trachoma vector Musca sorbens was breeding in household latrines in a trachoma-endemic part of The Gambia.

Methods  Longitudinal study of flies emerging from 16 sentinel household latrines selected at random from a list of all latrines present in four Gambian villages. Latrines were surveyed and fly traps were set over the drop hole for 24 h once per month for a year.

Results  All the sentinel latrines were of the ‘Gambian improved household latrine’ design, which has a cement slab but is not ventilated or fly-proofed. The latrines were all in regular use by a family, mean number of users per latrine 14.8 (SD 8.0, range 2–29). Of 55 351 flies caught in 192 catches 54 130 (97.8%) were Chrysomya albiceps, 690 (1.2%) Musca domestica, 466 (0.8%) Chrysomya regalis and 65 (0.1%) M. sorbens. Of the M. sorbens caught 61 (93.8%) were female.

Conclusions  Gambian improved household pit latrines cannot be considered a source of the trachoma vector M. sorbens, and the promotion of pit latrines as a method to reduce M. sorbens is warranted. A large number of C. albiceps were caught emerging from the latrines, but this species is not considered to be of medical importance.