Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who ya gonna call?

Blood-drinkers be warned: Slayers are on the prowl. Taking a note from a cheesy '80s movie, these hunters have equipped themselves with a backpack-carried weapon and are crawling the sewers collecting the flying fiends who annoy the living.

Mosquito hunters from Emory University have developed an efficient way to monitor adult mosquitoes and the deadly diseases they carry, and they have done it cheaply. "Emory has filed a provisional patent on the Prokopack mosquito aspirator, but the inventors have provided simple instructions for how to make it in the Journal of Medical Entomology."

"This device has broad potential, not only for getting more accurate counts of mosquito populations, but for better understanding mosquito ecology," according to Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec. "There is a great need for effective and affordable mosquito sampling methods. Use of the Prokopack can increase the coverage area, and the quality of the data received, especially for blood-fed mosquitoes. Ultimately, it can help us develop better health intervention strategies."

This new invention outperformed standards for resting mosquito surveillance in lab and field tests. The Prokopack has a longer reach than the Center For Disease Control and Prevention Backpack Aspirator (CDC-BP), which enables "it to collect more mosquitoes than the CDC-BP". The Prokopack is also "significantly smaller, lighter, cheaper, and easier to build" than its predecessor.

"Anyone with access to a hardware store, and about $45 to $70, can make the Prokopack, which uses a battery-powered motor to suck up live mosquitoes for analysis."

"The CDC-BP can quickly vacuum up samples of live specimens, which can be analyzed in a lab to determine the source of blood they recently consumed. The drawbacks to the CDC-BP, however, include its heavy weight (26 pounds), its bulk and its price -- about $450 to $750 in the United States."

"With a bit of ingenuity and a few trips to the hardware store," the Emory research team "put together a solution: a plastic container, a wire screen, a plumbing pipe coupler, a battery-powered blower motor and painter extension poles. After some experimentation with these components, the Prokopack was born.

"Collecting more mosquitoes in higher locations can give researchers more insights into their behaviors. Upper foliage, for instance, can yield more mosquitoes resting after feeding on birds. And upper walls and ceilings of homes may harbor more mosquitoes resting after a meal on humans."

Emory University (2010, January 13). Mosquito hunters invent better, cheaper, DIY disease weapon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from¬ /releases/2010/01/100112152402.htm

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