Solar powered traps baited with human body odor may provide an effective method of trapping and killing the malaria causing mosquitoes. The solar-powered odor-baited mosquito trapping systems (SMoTS) have so far given positive results, and may provide an effective malaria intervention method.
Even though people are now scared about the new Zika virus, malaria is by far still one of the deadliest diseases that have existed for decades. According to WHO, malaria caused about 438000 deaths in the year 2015 alone. Despite efforts to eradicate the malaria causing mosquitoes, and malaria from the face of the world, we are still struggling with the challenge.
Although there are now more insecticides and other means of killing the mosquitoes, they seem to have developed more tolerance to the chemicals. In addition, some environmental factors may also limit the extent of how and where the chemicals can be used.
The solar powered trap may provide a more environmentally friendly and effective solution based on the success of the pilot project in Kenya. The SolarMal project, led by Prof. Willem Takken of the Netherlands’ Wageningen University worked with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Kenya.
The pilot project, which was carried out in Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, Nyanza County involved installing the odor-baited, solar powered traps in each of the homes under the study. The human odor attracts the mosquitoes close to the system. A 12 Volt fan sucks the insects which are then captured by a net inside the trap inside where the die due to dehydration.
The 12 volt fans can be powered by AC mains through an adapter, or solar power in places without grid power. In the pilot program in Rusinga Island, the solar panels were installed on the rooftops to provide power to the fans as well as other uses such as lighting and charging the cell phones.
The use of the solar powered traps has seen a 70 % decline in the population of the malaria causing mosquito. In addition, a 30% decline in the number of people suffering from malaria was noted in houses utilizing the traps as compared to those without the traps. Other than Malaria, the odor baited traps may help in combating the Zika virus and the dengue fever which are transmitted by the yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) – insects which are also attracted by the human scent.
Source: The Lancent