A device that targets mosquitoes and helps prevent diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika has been trialled in an international study led by Queensland researchers.
The 'emanator' is a small insecticide-treated plastic mesh device and has been used in a randomised field trial to target Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in homes in the state of Yucatan in Mexico.
The findings from the study, led by the Berghofer Medical Research Institute (QIMR) in Brisbane, show that the devices when hung in homes are highly effective and suited to fast deployment during outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.
These diseases affect hundreds of millions of people annually across the globe, predominantly in poorer, urban households in the tropics.
The QIMR coordinated the trial in partnership with colleagues at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan in Mexico and Emory University in the United States.
Associate Professor Gregor Devine, head of QIMR's Mosquito Control Laboratory, said the emanators treated with the insecticide metofluthrin were placed inside every room in 100 houses, where they released insecticide passively into the air.
The number of mosquitoes and mosquito bites recorded inside those homes were then compared with results from 100 untreated houses over a period of several months and the results have been promising.
"We found the presence of the emanators consistently reduced the number of female mosquitoes in a house by 60 per cent and the number of reported bites by 90 per cent," Prof Devine said.
"It's better than results reported for other mosquito-control measures and it's reassuring that we saw a decline in mosquitoes and bites despite the fact that Aedes aegypti populations in the Yucatan area are resistant to conventional insecticides," he said.
The World Health Organisation is currently evaluating this model of mosquito control.
Australian Associated Press