Mosquitoes are responsible for huge losses in human and animal life through their role as vectors of infectious diseases. Successful control of mosquitoes depends on accurate surveillance of their abundance and pathogen infection rates, of which the malaria parasite represents the most important human pathogen. Currently, the ‘gold standard’ method for estimating the abundance of mosquitoes and number of infectious bites that a person would be exposed is called the “Human Landing Catch” (HLC). This technique requires a volunteer to capture mosquitoes that land upon them and test them for pathogens. This method obviously poses some risk of infection the volunteer, and is thus its use is being increasingly restricted for research and surveillance purposes.
The research team have developed a prototype to address these current shortfalls. The prototype has been developed following laboratory optimization and field testing in rural and urban Tanzania, where it was compared with the HLC procedure both inside houses and outdoors. The latest version of the MET equalled (in 30cm3 size) and exceeded (in 1m3 size) HLC performance in terms of the number of malaria vectors that were collected from human baits. Additionally the large version of the trap performed very successfully in sampling mosquitoes attempting to feed on cows, indicating MET’s utility for surveillance of vector-borne diseases of livestock.
- MET is lightweight, portable, and easy to assemble and does not require mains electricity
- MET can be placed in close proximity to human or animal bait
- MET acts as a barrier around the host which prevents them being exposed to infection bites
- Electrocuting panels also act as a barrier to trap insects
- MET can be used in both indoor and outdoor environments
- Mosquitoes trapped by MET remain intact and suitable for identification by morphological and molecular methods.
MET could provide a very valuable and safe tool for monitoring the abundance and transmission potential of mosquito vectors, and for evaluation of control measures used to target them.
The University of Glasgow and the Ifakara Health Institute have jointly filed a UK patent application disclosing this technology and is interested to contact organisations interested in developing, licensing or exploiting this IP with a view to commercialisation.