UK collaboration to test biological control of mosquitoes

The new biological control method is based on releasing Wolbachia-infected males in a targeted area. Unlike their female counterparts, male mosquitoes do not bite or transmit disease. The males mate with females and render the females sterile.Dobson began testing the biological controls effectiveness in small laboratory cages and progressed to greenhouses, releasing more infected male mosquitoes each time.\”In laboratory and greenhouse conditions, we can eliminate a population in just over eight weeks,\” Dobson said.The technology is being field tested through a collaboration between UK and MosquitoMate, a small, start-up company in Lexington. MosquitoMate is led by Jimmy Mains, a former student in Dobsons laboratory whose doctoral research focused on Wolbachias ability to control Asian tiger mosquitoes in laboratory and greenhouse settings.\”Its exciting to participate as this technology progresses from an idea developed at the University of Kentucky, through laboratory trials and now to a real-world application,\” Mains said.Mosquito populations peaked before the researchers received the EPA permit this summer. Therefore their initial work this past summer in Lexington was limited to small-scale trials, examining male mating and flight distance in the field. This information will help guide early work next year, when researchers hope to see significant impacts on Asian tiger mosquito populations in Lexington.

via UK collaboration to test biological control of mosquitoes.


Secrets of insect repellent DEET being uncovered.

“Until now, no one had a clue about which olfactory receptor insects used to avoid DEET. Without the receptors, it is impossible to apply modern technology to design new repellents,” said Professor Anandasankar Ray, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, who led the study.

“Ir40a and its related proteins are conserved not only in flies and mosquitoes, but also in many other insects that are human and plant pests. Our findings could lead to a new generation of cheap, affordable repellents that could protect humans, animals and, in the future, our crops as well,” Professor Ray said.

“We could find truly novel repellents that have remarkable properties such as large-scale spatial protection and long-term protection.”

via Secrets of insect repellent DEET could prove decisive in the war on malaria, dengue and West Nile fever – Science – News – The Independent.

Complacent Australian travellers are catching the Chikungunya virus |

The 30-year-old Perth student is one of a record number of Australians who have returned from South East Asia and surrounding countries with Chikungunya virus this year.

It is an unwelcome souvenir more than 100 Australians — almost 10 times as many than previous years — have brought back from their holidays and experts warn the numbers will continue to climb during the wet season.

Ms Merrett, a medical student at the University of Western Australia, contracted Chikungunya during the last week of her travels through PNG in March — and she is still feeling daily pain today.

“I wasn’t overly complacent, I was quite worried about malaria and taking tablets to avoid that,” she said.

“I was sleeping under a mosquito net every night and pretty good about wearing long sleeves in the evening and putting mosquito repellent on my ankles and hands in the evening.

“But maybe because I was there for eight weeks and maybe because there was an outbreak at the time (I was unlucky).”

For the first week Ms Merrett spent 20 hours a day in bed.

She spent four months taking anti-inflammatories daily just to ease the pain in her muscles and joints.

via Complacent Australian travellers are catching the Chikungunya virus |

How Smartphones Became Vital Tools Against Dengue In Pakistan : Shots – Health News : NPR

One reason for the accolades is that Saif took the mobile campaign one step further: He built a Google map that correlates the locations of dengue cases and hot spots for mosquito larvae. “So there’s a clear pattern of disease outbreak that corresponds to reports of positive dengue larvae,” he says.

With these visuals, Saif and his team could zero in on problem regions in the province and predict future outbreaks.

The mobile phone campaign also helps to stop another issue that plagues Pakistan: entrenched public sector corruption.

“You have people who have not done — maybe for decades — work as well as they were supposed to do,” Saif says. “So the government needs to therefore now use technology in innovative ways to monitor its functions.”

via How Smartphones Became Vital Tools Against Dengue In Pakistan : Shots – Health News : NPR.

Expansion of dengue is expected to increase due to …climate change, globalization, travel, … socioeconomics, settlement … viral evolution…

Epidemiology of dengue: past, present and future prospects.

Targeting mosquito breeding sites could boost malaria control efforts in Africa and Asia

The authors analysis of the data from Eritrea, The Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Greece suggested that where larval habitats are not too extensive and a sufficient proportion of these habitats can be targeted, LSM may reduce the number of cases of malaria and the proportion of people infected with the malaria parasite at any one time. The findings also suggest LSM could contribute to a reduction in the prevalence of splenomegaly in children an enlargement of the spleen caused by repeated malaria infections.LSM could therefore be particularly effective in urban areas, rural areas with high population densities or obvious breeding sites like small streams or swamps, highland regions and desert fringes. Interventions included adding larvicide to abandoned mine pits, streams, irrigation ditches and rice paddies where mosquitoes breed, and building dams, flushing streams and removing water containers from around peoples homes.Lead author, Lucy Tusting from the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “This is the first time the evidence on larval source management for malaria control has been systematically reviewed, and our research shows that the method can be an effective supplementary measure against malaria in both urban and rural areas of Africa and Asia — wherever it is possible to target a sufficient proportion of mosquito breeding sites.

via Targeting mosquito breeding sites could boost malaria control efforts in Africa and Asia.

MIT Team prepares next generation of devices for more reliable malaria diagnosis

The collaborative MIT team of experts in microfluidics, circuit design, materials science and microbiology has designed their new cell-differentiating technology so that it can be packaged as a low-cost device, but more work needs to be done. “We are using our combined expertise to push the technology toward real-world applications,” Dao says.

Since this new detection method can, for the first time, differentiate among the three major stages of Plasmodium falciparum’s asexual development, Marti sees another potential application: The device may also be able to distinguish cells infected with the parasite at its transmission stage, the stage in which mosquitos can pick it up from humans and transmit it to other humans. “If we could use the device to detect malaria infection and the potential for transmission at the same time, that would make it even more interesting,” Marti says.

The next steps for further development involve integrating this new technology into a small, low-cost package. “Our hope is that such technologies as those described in this work will ultimately help meet the need for a new generation of portable, disposable and inexpensive diagnostics for a variety of human diseases,” Suresh says.

The team is also interested in using the device to investigate the electrical properties of other types of diseased cells to see if electrical impedance changes could be used for diagnostics.

This work was carried out with the assistance of the Fulbright Science and Technology Award. Device fabrications were carried out at MTL. The work was supported by Singapore’s National Research Foundation through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and by SMART, MIT’s Center for Integrated Circuits and Systems and the National Institutes of Health.

via Detecting early-stage malarial infection – MIT News Office.