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Microsoft Mosquito Trap Distinguishes Disease-Prone Species From Others

Image: Microsoft Mosquito Trap Distinguishes Disease-Prone Species From Others

A mosquito trap from Microsoft can target disease-prone species and let other insects go. (Photo via Microsoft.com)

By    |   Friday, 17 Feb 2017 04:38 PM

A Microsoft mosquito trap can capture species of mosquitoes known to spread the Zika virus and other diseases while letting other insects go and recording data on environmental conditions.

The robotic device was piloted in the Houston area last summer, raising hope that it could improve public health, The Associated Press reported.

Microsoft lead researcher Ethan Jackson compared the traps to "a field biologist in real time that's making choices about the insects it wants to capture," the AP noted. He presented a prototype of the device to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Thursday.

"It catches people's imagination," University of Florida medical entomology professor Jonathan Day said, according to the AP. "But whether it is actually a trap that will functionally improve surveillance, I think that remains to be seen."

The mosquito trap was developed as part of Microsoft's Project Premonition, which aims to help researchers better track disease outbreaks. During Thursday's meeting, Jackson demonstrated how the trap’s 64 compartments can be programmed to snap shut when certain species of insect are detected, GeekWire reported.

Infrared scanning allowed the device to accurately determine species 80 percent of the time during last summer's test, Jackson said, according to GeekWire.

The traps could warn of a possible outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases by alerting scientists when specific mosquito species are present.

Development of the trap began in 2015 during the Ebola outbreak, CNN reported.

The traps could be carried to remote locations by drones. Sitting atop a tripod and emitting mosquito-attracting carbon dioxide, the 1-foot-tall trap will record the time a mosquito enters the trap and automatically notify public health officials if it is of a species known to carry a disease, such as Zika, dengue fever, or West Nile virus, CNN said. Only a few of the 3,600 known species of mosquitoes carry such diseases.

"It's going to advance the field of mosquito control in a way that has not been done in this country," Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County public health, said, according to CNN. "If this does what we think it should be able to do, it's going to be a real game-changer."

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A Microsoft mosquito trap can capture species of mosquitoes known to spread the Zika virus and other diseases while letting other insects go and recording data on environmental conditions.
microsoft, mosquito, trap
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2017-38-17
Friday, 17 Feb 2017 04:38 PM
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