Now, a cheaper way to trap deadly mosquitoes
Updated on Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 16:03 IST
Washington: Researchers have come up with the cheapest and most efficient way so far to trap adult mosquitoes and the deadly diseases they carry, from malaria to the West Nile Virus.
Emory University (E-U) has filed a provisional patent on the Prokopack mosquito aspirator, which uses a battery-powered motor to suck up live mosquitoes for analysis.
In both field and lab tests, Prokopack outperformed the current gold standard for
resting mosquito surveillance - the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Backpack Aspirator (CDC-BP).
Besides having a longer reach, enabling it to collect more mosquitoes than the CDC-BP, the Prokopack is significantly smaller, lighter, cheaper and easier to build.
"This device has broad potential, not only for getting more accurate counts of mosquito
populations, but for better understanding mosquito ecology," said Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, inventor and a post-doctoral researcher in environmental studies.
Mosquito-borne diseases rank among the world's top killers, and Vazquez-Prokopec hopes that more affordable and efficient surveillance methods will help save lives.
"I come from a developing country," says the Argentine native. "I understand what it feels like to know that there is a health technology available, and to not have the money to access it."
For decades, public health officials
have struggled to conduct mosquito surveillance. One early method, with obvious drawbacks, was to expose a bit of skin and count the bites.
Another low-tech method is to spray a home with insecticide, and gather the bugs that fall onto on a drop cloth, says an EU release.
Mosquito traps baited with a chemical that mimics human sweat are sometimes used to catch live adult insects. But these traps capture only females who are looking for a meal.
These findings were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.