London: African scientists claim to be
developing a new trap for malaria-spreading mosquitoes, using
the odour of human feet to lure them in, which they say could
help drastically reduce the transmission rate of the disease.
A team at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania
says that the traps would be able to attract up to four times
as many mosquitoes as to humans themselves, and then kill the
bloodsucking creatures with a lethal dose of insecticide.
Malaria is one of the biggest killers in the
developing countries. Each year, there are almost 250 million
new cases of malaria and almost 800,000 people die, according
to the World Health Organisation.
In fact, the scientists first came up with the idea
after seeing how mosquitoes were drawn to smelly socks.
They persuaded a number of volunteers to donate socks
they had worn for at least 10 hours. They then placed them
inside canvas and wooden boxes hung with insecticide-laced
drapes outside people`s homes in rural southeast Tanzania,
`The Daily Telegraph` reported.
Dr Fredros Okumu, who is leading the two-year
project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and
Grant Challenges Canada, said mosquitoes work through smell
rather than sight so could not tell the difference between the
trap and real humans before it was too late.
"In their attempts to get blood from these
devices, between 74 to 95 per cent of all of those who landed
in them got killed. We`re hoping this will be a worthwhile and
significant addition to the malaria control arsenal," he said.
The scientists now want to establish whether socks
themselves or a synthetic version of their smell work best and
whether the devices cut the number of times people are bitten.
They also plan to simplify the devices enough to be made and
sold by the villagers themselves.