Recent research has shown that the use of a newly developed mosquito trap incorporated with human odour resulted in a 70% reduction in the total population of the most fatal malaria mosquito on the island of Rusinga, Kenya.
Led by Professor Willem Takken, the three-year study was conducted by scientists from the Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, as well as researchers from the Kenyan International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH).
After introducing the odour-baited traps on the Kenyan island, the number of people affected with malaria in the region was reported to have reduced by 30% among those who lived in houses with a mosquito trap, compared to the people who lived houses that were yet to receive a trap.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that can be often fatal for human lives, and to combat this without using insecticides is a major challenge faced by the world food production.
Willem Takken said: “The effect of the disease on agricultural production is hugely underestimated.
“As children with malaria need access to hospital care, their parents cannot work on the land and as a result, food production rates decline.
“If those parents themselves also suffer from malaria infections four or five times a year, they are also not able to work for around six weeks. In such cases, extra labour needs to be brought in or the crop will be lost.”
The new odour-baited trap may also prove effective for diseases such as dengue fever and the Zika virus.
Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, is a major cause for these infections, and is attracted to the same humanised scent that attracts malaria mosquitoes.
Image: Odour-baited mosquito traps can fight malaria. Photo: courtesy of WageningenUR.